This week, axios It was reported that Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount were considering some type of merger. This would make sense: Warner Bros. Discovery is trying to become a content giant, and Paramount would give the company even more content, as well as a bunch of popular (as they can be in this era) broadcast and cable channels. This would further secure Warner Bros. Discovery’s control over tentpole IP and allow it to serve as an even more powerful rival to Disney and Netflix.
It would also be very bad for all of us who just want to watch a few shows after work or school. In 2023, we finally saw the future imagined by the companies behind the streaming services we use. This wasn’t a world where shows and movies were easily available, fan-favorites got the attention they deserve, and aggressive competition kept prices down – instead, we got ever-increasing prices, disappearing content, and sudden and worse. Message containing cancellations found.
Notably, prices have fallen drastically this year. As my colleague Emma Roth points out in an article about a year of price hikes, the seven biggest streaming companies will raise prices in 2023: Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Max, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus, and Peacock.
Less competition would leave consumers even more open to price increases. In a market where the biggest IP is split between Disney, Amazon, Netflix, and the combined Warner Bros. Discovery/Paramount, you can imagine what prices those companies will try to charge you for participating in pop culture.
But what scares me even more than the inevitable price increases imposed on us by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and fellow media executives is the simple consolidation of entertainment companies — and thus the reduction in the number of people who decide Whether the green signal will be given and made.
We’ve seen time and again that when entertainment companies band together, it’s us – the people who are just trying to have a good time – who suffer. A hundred years ago, most of the major studios that made films also owned theaters that screened those films. This meant that some towns would not get the biggest movies because the theaters were owned by rival studios. This meant that independently produced content was virtually non-existent. The list of people dictating what everyone was watching was limited to a handful of (predominantly male) producers and studio executives like Irving Thalberg, Jack Warner, and Louis B. Mayer. This resulted in true uniformity of material.
In modern times we have seen other authorities put their thumb on the ground to put their wishes above those of the creators. Zaslav has canceled more than one movie or TV show because he didn’t feel they were worth the money. Tim Cook told creators on Apple TV not to be mean, and even now, Apple has told creatives like Robert DeNiro to watch what they say, lest they offend Apple customers in other countries. Disturb. The company is rumored to have canceled Jon Stewart’s show for similar reasons.
It wouldn’t be the most successful franchises that suffer consolidation. game of Thrones The franchise and the Taylor Sheridan oeuvre will be preserved. It’s the smaller projects that will be at risk, projects often run by people of color and gay people. These are projects that can have widespread impact, even if their audiences are small.
We know this because a lot of this has already happened in 2023. Paramount canceled they becomeThe Source of Countless Viral Interview Clips Starring Black Comedian Ziwe, and Completely Removed rise of pink women – surprisingly good grease The prequel focused on the experiences of a butch lesbian in the 1950s. (Expressing anger towards homosexuals, Disney did the same to them willow Sequel, which also had a lesbian romance at its core.)
Max has left a bloody trail of destruction this year too. It canceled the award-winning a black lady sketch show And then messed up the release of the third season Warrior Before canceling it forever. cancellation of Warrior, About Chinese immigrants fighting for survival in 1880s San Francisco, Especially awesome, considering it was renewed for a third season because it was so successful on HBO Max. But there was no room for it on a consolidated streaming service filled with more mainstream populist programming. that’s what happened South sideThe critically acclaimed comedy about two black men trying to find success on the South Side of Chicago, and espookiesPeabody Award-winning Latino-based comedy.
The merger of Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount would not save any of those shows – other shows like them would not even be able to be produced. Instead, this will mean that Taylor Sheridan will do more shows about tough men and their tough-but-savvy wives, as well as James Gunn starting to create whatever superheroes he wants for Warner Bros. and DC.
In the ’40s, the government looked at what was happening in Hollywood with the huge consolidation of the studios and their power and cultural hold and found that it was a violation of antitrust laws. Out of all the legal hassles came something called the Paramount Decree, which ended the studios’ ability to own theaters that distributed their material. This forced competition, weakened the roles of censors, and increased the number of both independent theaters and independent films. it worked.
In 2019, the DOJ sought to end that decree despite the rise of streaming services, which effectively performed the same function. While that order wouldn’t have controlled streaming services, you can certainly see why something like this might be beneficial now: because if Warner Bros. Discovery succeeds in buying Paramount, streaming will become more expensive – And the material will get even worse.