Stankey Discusses Advantages of Leveraging Licensed Content

As Disney and WarnerMedia ready flagship over-the-top video platforms for launch in late 2019, SVOD services such as Netflix are scrambling to minimize their risk to third-party content obligations.

Witness Netflix’s decision to cancel “Daredevil,” which was foreshadowed last month by the SVOD behemoth’s termination of original Disney/Marvel series “Iron Fist,” and “Luke Cage.”

Netflix’s exclusive pay-TV access to Disney theatrical titles ends this year.

While Netflix hinted that more adventures of Daredevil could eventually materialize in other mediums, the service took the high road saying — in a statement — that the three existing seasons would remain on the platform “for years to come,” while the Daredevil character “will live on in future projects for Marvel.”

To John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia, which owns Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, the move by Netflix to distance itself from third-party license agreements in favor of proprietary fare underscores ongoing changes in the OTT video landscape.

“A lot of those incumbents [i.e. Netflix] should expect that their libraries are going to get a whole lot thinner,” Stankey said Nov. 29 on AT&T’s analyst day event. “They are not going to be the same size they are today.”

Indeed, WarnerMedia and Disney can enhance the consumer value of their pending SVOD services simply by denying their content brands to Netflix & Co. — in effect depriving competing OTT services streaming access to valuable IP.

Stankey said the challenge for Netflix and other OTT services is to get their subs to pivot away from licensed content (about 70%, according to Stankey) to proprietary original fare. Regardless, Stankey said WarnerMedia wins as both a producer and distributor of original content.

“Maybe it sits in our library and maybe it sits in Disney/Fox,” he said.

The executive contends OTT video platforms will be structured differently in the next couple of years, including incorporating third-party content providers looking to piggyback on AT&T/WarnerMedia’s scale.

“I think structurally that is likely what will happen,” he said. “I believe we can play in that world going forward.”

 

Netflix Continues Marvel Housecleaning, Cancels ‘Daredevil’

Faced with the impending launch of a rival Disney streaming service next year, Netflix appears to be eager to get out of the Marvel business.

The streaming service pioneer Nov. 29 canceled “Daredevil” after three seasons, the third of its shows based on Marvel Comics to get the axe in the past two months.

Netflix Oct. 12 canceled “Iron Fist,” followed a week later by “Luke Cage,” which it canceled the same day as the premiere of the third season of “Daredevil.”

The rapid elimination of its Marvel-based properties has led to increased speculation that Netflix was washing its hands of the franchise as Marvel owner The Walt Disney Co. prepares to launch its own direct-to-consumer video service, Disney+, late next year.

“Daredevil” had been the flagship of a heralded distribution deal between Disney and Netflix announced in late 2013 that would see the production of four series based on Marvel characters set in the same cinematic universe as the “Avengers” films.

The show, which premiered in 2015, focused on blind lawyer Matt Murdock, who used his acute senses to fight crime as a vigilante on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.

“Daredevil” was followed by “Jessica Jones,” about a super-powered NYC private investigator; “Luke Cage,” which focused on the bulletproof hero of Harlem; and “Iron Fist,” about a wealthy heir who returns to New York after a long absence having gained mystical martial arts abilities.

After a second season of “Daredevil” in 2016, the four title heroes joined forces in 2017 in the miniseries “The Defenders.” In 2017 “Daredevil” spun off “The Punisher,” about a veteran seeking revenge for the death of his family. “Jessica Jones” received a second season early in 2018.

The series were produced for Netflix by Marvel Television and ABC Studios.

“Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” were both given two seasons on Netflix. While the first season of “Iron Fist” was generally derided by fans, its second season was praised as a positive turnaround by most critics, although its cancellation wasn’t seen as much of a surprise given lingering animosity toward the show. The elimination of the better-received “Luke Cage” was more eye-opening to industry observers, with the lack of renewal of “Daredevil” leaving little doubt as to the eventual fate of Netflix’s remaining Marvel shows.

A second season of “The Punisher” has completed production and is expected to debut early next year. A third season of “Jessica Jones” is currently in production.

Netflix never formally renewed or canceled the “The Defenders,” though in September it rebranded its “Defenders” Facebook page into “NX,” a label more encompassing of Netflix’s wider array of genre-based properties. Many fan sites interpreted this move as a sign that no further crossover adventures were in the works, especially since the first “Defenders” miniseries garnered a lukewarm critical reaction (its 77% Rotten Tomatoes critics score was the lowest of any of the preceding seasons, save for “Iron Fist,” and ranks it eighth among the 11 Marvel Netflix seasons).

Rotten Tomatoes listed the third season of “Daredevil” as the best-received Marvel Netflix season in terms of both critic (94% positive) and fan (96%) response since the first season of “Daredevil” three years ago (which earned 99% and 96%, respectively).

Global data measurement firm Parrot Analytics reported that “Daredevil” was the No. 4 most in-demand show in terms of online activity the week ended Nov. 24, more than a month after its third season debuted. However, Business Insider Nov. 28 speculated that the fate of “Daredevil” was uncertain, despite a #RenewDaredevil Twitter campaign advocating a fourth season, citing data from consumer-insights company Crimson Hexagon claiming interest in all the Marvel shows was down significantly since the franchise debuted.

At the same time, Netflix has been putting more emphasis on its own proprietary content, rather than licensing shows from third parties, as they do with Marvel.

In a statement to Deadline, Netflix stated that it was “tremendously proud” of the third season of “Daredevil” and felt “it best to close this chapter on a high note.”

Netflix also hinted that more adventures of Daredevil could eventually materialize in other mediums: “While the series on Netflix has ended, the three existing seasons will remain on the service for years to come, while the Daredevil character will live on in future projects for Marvel.”

What form this may take remains to be seen, given the apparent creative split between Marvel Studios, which handles the films, and Marvel Television. Disney+ has confirmed a new series based on the “Thor” and “Avengers” villain Loki, and rumors are swirling about additional series based on film characters such as The Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier and Falcon, the latter two being sidekicks of Captain America. But these series would be handled by Marvel Studios and its executive producer, Kevin Feige, and not Marvel Television.

The 2015 separation of Marvel’s film and TV divisions left many fans wondering about how interconnected the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s television incarnation would remain. Thus far, MCU-set TV shows such as the Netflix group, ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Freeform’s “Cloak & Dagger” have referenced events from the films, but have not received reciprocal acknowledgement from any of the movies (though the Russo Brothers did acknowledge discussions about the feasibility of using characters such as Luke Cage in Avengers: Infinity War).

With Marvel Studios seemingly handling the Marvel programming on Disney+, industry observers have expressed skepticism about the pending service’s willingness to pick up Marvel Television productions that have already been canceled by other networks.

 

As Marvel Movie Draws Closer, Digital Originals Rise Up the Demand Chart

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery” remained at No. 1 on the digital originals chart for the week that ended March 3, but dropped from No. 1 to No. 5 on the overall TV shows chart, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

On the digital originals chart, the top five remain unchanged from the previous week, but they all lost a quarter of demand compared to last week since no new episodes have aired this year.

“Orange Is the New Black” jumped up a notch to No. 6 on the digital originals chart, displacing the nostalgic teen drama “Everything Sucks!,” which slipped to No. 8. “Everything Sucks!” suffered a 19% decrease in demand from the prior week, and with more original series premiering in March appears likely to drop off the chart.

A third Marvel superhero series entered the top 10 the week ended March 3: “The Punisher,” which joins “Jessica Jones” (No. 7, up a notch from the prior week) and “Daredevil” (which held steady at No. 9). All three series have new episodes in the pipeline. Season 2 of “Jessica Jones” arrives March 8, while a third season of “Daredevil” is expected later this year. A second season of “The Punisher” has also been ordered. All three series have experienced a roughly 20% week-on-week increase in demand. A demand uptick for Marvel/Netflix titles tends to happen around the release of significant Marvel motion picture releases, Parrot Analytics data shows; the next “Avengers” film is scheduled to open theatrically April 27.

On the overall chart, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” shot up to No. 1 from No. 2 the prior week, followed by “Game of Thrones” at No. 2, “SpongeBob SquarePants” at No. 3 and “Grey’s Anatomy” at No. 4. “The Walking Dead” appears to have experienced a renaissance in its popularity. The zombie franchise’s principal producer, Scott Gimple, has talked about plans for more spin-offs of the show in the future. The show, which is currently in its eighth season, already has one spin-off (“Fear the Walking Dead”), and there are discussions for more.

Two long-running reality titles reappeared on the chart. “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” popped back up at No. 8, perhaps due to a pregnancy, while competition format changes may have propelled “The Voice” back onto the chart at No. 10.