We live in a world in which shades of gray no longer exist. These days, everything is black or white. And television is not exempt from this. Actually, television personifies and amplifies this polarization.

The world is now divided into two contrasting camps in every sector: politics, economics, society, and now technology, in the form of a confrontation between the SVoD and the OTA camps. Each one is predicting the demise of the other. Broadcasters think that the current SVoD model is unsustainable, while the streamers are convinced that the OTA days are numbered.

“The toothpaste is out of the proverbial tube,” is how SVoD proponents describe this transition. “Yes,” retort OTA advocates, “but the toothpaste is now available in liquid form. The key is to adapt to the new paradigm.”

The conflict also exists between the new and old guards, with each group of executives having grown up (professionally speaking, that is) under different parameters. The former grew up during a period of hardship, the latter in a time of abundance. It was like Genesis 41, but with the seven years of famine preceding the years of abundance, instead. Ironically, however, the prophecy is now returning to its original sequence.

Then, there is the Wall Street factor. Speculators are betting on SVoD for stock growth, rather then seeking dividends, since traditional media, like OTA, is mostly focused on profits.

The content rights sales business is included on “the OTA side,” and up until recently, it was generating billions for content owners, while the streamers maintain that such revenue could be recouped by keeping the TV content exclusive to the SVoD platforms.

This logic (or illogic) can be explained with an actual example. Not too long ago, during a regularly scheduled review with Wall Street analysts, executives from a U.S. TV network were proudly reporting a record $3 billion in content rights sales, which drew a sort of collective yawn from the analysts who peppered television executives with questions like, “Yes, but what about your digital plans?” The message was clear, you can ignore the $3 billion in sales if you have an SVoD plan, regardless of whether or not it’s going to lose money.

Media observers are also divided in their analyses. SVoD advocates tend to be dead set against OTA, and vice versa, with the former forwarding their adversaries links to reports about the pending demise of OTA, and the advocates of life with OTA sadistically sending statistics and financial reports about the ruinous state of streaming services.

Then, there are the producers who both love and hate the streamers. They love the fees the streamers pay for production, but hate the fact that they have to renounce their back-end, which is something the OTA sector provides.

And to think that as recently as 2015, Hollywood could release a movie like Fifty Shades of Gray. If produced in today’s environment it would be called: Two Shades of Gray: Black and White!

(By Dom Serafini)

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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