A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Clooney comes to Netflix! Spider-Man comes to VR! Hellboy comes to Amazon!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who reminds readers that not every news day is a winner.
George Clooney is coming to Netflix with a film in which he will direct and star. Good Morning Midnight is based on the 2017 novel which is a post-apocalyptic tale follows the parallel stories of Augustine (Clooney), a lonely scientist in the Arctic, and an astronaut on board the Aether spacecraft, which is trying to return home to Earth, as Augustine races to make contact with the spaceship.
David Sims in The Atlantic has a thought piece about the fact Netflix is a business and not a movement. It is in response to recent stories blaming Netflix for the recent run of failed films at the box office. While Netflix creates challenges for theatrical releases, Sims argues that as content is pulled from Netflix towards other services and it becomes increasingly reliant on its own library, it opens up Netflix to the same challenges that are facing other media companies.
I think there’s something to that. I’m also left thinking about the fact that when Netflix first started to gain traction in the market, it was a movement. Netflix has considerable brand loyalty and I think a big part of that comes from the initial marketing efforts of Netflix.
The streamer actively courted bloggers, tech press, and social influencers rather than the mainstream media. When it launched in Australia, it was weirdly easier for me to get access to Netflix marketing with my audience via my old site/podcast Televised Revolution, than I could through the trade press mag I soon worked for or for other much larger traditional media companies. Netflix was happy to build its brand off the backs of Internet weirdos* and cool online kids.
In recent years Netflix is leaning more on established legacy media and not the smaller online outlets. That makes sense as the company has most definitely outgrown those outlets - but I do wonder if by making Netflix into a mainstream-feeling corporation, it loses the sense that it is a cultural movement?
Is it really a movie release anymore if there isn’t a VR experience tie-in? From Monday you can watch Spider-Man: Far From Home and then come home to your PSVR and swing through the city as Spider-Man with a first-person view.
Playing as an ape swinging around buildings in Crisis of The Planet of The Apes was one of the most fun things I’ve done in VR, so being Spidey sounds like a wild afternoon for me.
Have you ever wanted to play board game Settlers of Catan, but…. in VR? Well, later today you can with the new Catan VR app which places you in a room where you can play the board game. It will be available on all major VR platforms.
In addition to Prime Video, Amazon also have an ad-supported streaming video service that they are trying to entice advertisers to. Originally branded as Freedive, the service very quickly had a rebrand to leverage the Amazon-owned IMDB brand. It is now IMDB TV.
The reasons for advertisers’ interest in IMDb TV are clear. For starters, IMDb TV offers a library of proven, brand-safe programming and plans to triple its content library this year with the addition of films like “La La Land” and “A Knight’s Tale.” Because those shows and films have already been rated for their original distribution, advertisers are able to apply standard controls governing which programming they are comfortable advertising within, such as only advertising within G- and PG-rated movies and blocking ads from running within certain genres of content, Peterson said. And since advertisers can buy IMDb TV’s inventory through Amazon’s DSP — though not as a standalone option — they are able to target their ads on the service based on the company’s shopper data, and they can use Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings to have an independent measurement of their campaigns.