Weekly Column: Shared Content and Streaming Platforms replacing Exclusivity

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about a growing trend in the entertainment, film, and television industry to share content on platforms.

You can read the full column below.


Studios and streamers pushing for exclusive content in contracts and negotiations on certain streaming platforms is beginning to see less prevalence in deals as distributors see more platform competition. Part of the change is based on the practicality of a changing industry and consumer demands. Another is the increasing library of content and logistics to host and distribute.

For example, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told the UBS Global Media and Communication Conference in early December 2023, “They (studios) always built their studios to license. The unnatural state was kind of forced vertical integration. So there will be opportunities for us to license. The same should take place on the movie front, where Netflix is moving beyond producing its own original films to create a content vault to licensing more titles from others.” Furthermore, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “bundles involving Netflix [with Verizon] and Apple [with Paramount] suggest that some players that have largely avoided discounting or wholesale offers may be warming up to the idea, and partnering with their legacy media competitors to stay in the game.” The conclusion being that companies like Netflix are not only licensing content to distribute, but are also licensing their original content on other platforms, and that the multi-level licensing is also for premium and ad-tier options.

Why is this happening? For one, Netflix, Apple, and other content libraries are growing and with increased concern over costs of hosting content beyond a high-performing shelf life, there needs to be a place to continue sharing and making money from the content. The equivalent comparison might be a film that appears in the theater, then moves to a streamer, then moves to linear television. There is money at each stage, but also new fans made by viewing the content or reexperiencing it. The point is the library of titles makes money where ever and whenever it is distributed. The second reason is a timing issue. There is simply more content now. The third reason is a point that Sarandos made to the aforementioned conference about forced vertical integration in the initial push to streaming activation in Hollywood. Meaning, once the companies that were not as successful in streaming realized their fate, they moved on to licensing and partnerships. At this stage, many of the streaming platforms are realizing that they need other to survive and share content. A good comparison might be to have the ability to share content on all social media platforms versus being limited to one. Simply, there are different audiences in different places.

One recent example of success in shared streaming content is the hit series, Suits. The series was popular as an NBCUniversal asset, but had new life on Netflix, streaming. The proper promotion of the series and the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes also helped to drive traffic as production halted on new and existing film and television series. Netflix has also signed pay one deals with Sony and Universal that gives exclusive rights to projects and streaming distribution for a period of time. Another example is the Cobra Kai movie from Sony, that started on Netflix and before that, YouTube), which was based on the 1980s film(s) Karate Kid (Columbia Pictures, owned by Sony).

Entertainment and film fans are often looking for new content to consume. Hit series are often being rediscovered and loved again. This is why a content library should be built to be licensed and re-licensed. A studio or streamer can only produce so much content tempered by costs, timing, storage, and distribution logistics. The life of an entertainment asset is one that can be reimagined by new generations, which is often based on original intellectual property sitting on the proverbial shelf. As well, added licensing means more dollars to the content owner, licensee, and added benefit to the entertainment library for those watching.


About Jeremy M. Evans:

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.  

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney of California Sports Lawyer® representing entertainment, media, and sports clients and is licensed to practice law in California.