Today’s post — much like my prior musing on my Son’s Twitch habit — will take the form of a thought experiment; slightly less polished, maybe a little more of the ramble than some of my long-forms.
Diagnosing the mutation isn’t an exact science, it’s a strain of epidemiology. Epidemiology doesn’t always track smoothly; outbreaks shadow lurk and can catch you by surprise. And…
All last week I’ve been tracking ONE (hence my temporary hiatus from posting). Remember: the FRANKEN-SCIENTISTS have their labs, and I have mine. So here’s the direct report:
The NARRATIVE MUTATION we’ve been documenting here started as an endemic exhaustion with LINEARITY. The temporal and durational fatigue was organic (it had been happening since the 70’s: that’s for another post), and gained infrastructural support by the inauguration of the INTERNET and PLATFORMS FOR DIGITAL CONTENT. However (and to invoke DELEUZE and GUATTARI): The age of DETERRITORIALIZATION is OVER.
DIGITAL as a FORM and a DISTRIBUTION TECHNIQUE was like a brick to the solar plexus of any corporations entrenched in ANALOG PLATFORMS, and the quagmire ran deep. They struggled to keep up. But now they’re getting it. The age of RETERRITORIALIZATION is UPON US.
Let’s start with these select quotes and then we’ll delve into the deeper meaning:
Streaming video services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, which are pulling away live or “linear” TV viewers, are also now major buyers of shows produced by the networks’ production studios.
It’s a key reason why the networks are likely to fill up the schedules with more shows that they own. Prime-time ratings for network shows may never be as big as they once were, but ownership means financial upside from sales to streaming services and foreign broadcasters, where opportunities are also growing as more markets open up.
“The question ‘Do we own it?’ comes up a lot quicker than it used to when we’re setting the schedule,” one veteran broadcast executive noted.
The trend is already evident in the new show pickups reportedly made by ABC. All six of its new dramas ordered as of Friday will be owned by the network’s studio. The only two freshman scripted ABC shows that didn’t get renewed for a second season — sitcom “Cristela” and the procedural police drama “Forever” — came from outside suppliers.
So COLLAPSERS what does that all mean?
Why do we keep seeing so many experiments in DURATION and LENGTH? Why do we keep seeing so many new PLATFORMS? Why do we keep seeing every form of MEDIA investing deep and hard in VIDEO CONTENT and forming strange tribal marriage’s (British giant ITV just partnered with the Weinstein’s, AOL, YAHOO, XBOX, even YOUTUBE and REDDIT are creating ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING)…WHY…?
Because in the face of ADVERTISER RETREAT and RELUCTANCE — NARRATIVE is the new AD REVENUE.
And the only thing more CRUCIAL than having tons of NARRATIVE in alternating DURATIONS —
Is owning the CONTENT SOLE RIGHTS for streaming and distribution. So this is why you get an unstoppable GLUT of:
NARRATIVE OVERLOAD: FRAKEN-FRANCHISES, REBOOTS, SHARED UNIVERSES, and CROSS-BRANDING.
FILM lost the DVD MARKET to NETFLIX and STREAMING. TV is losing it’s AD REVENUE and CUSTOMERS to DIGITAL and STREAMING. BOOKS still exist, but more and more in DIGITAL FORM (which hacks the costs in half).
The more UNIVERSES (DISNEY is the KING OF THIS) you CONTROL and OWN, the more you can make up in LOST REVENUE. Here’s the optimal situation:
You (the CORPORATION) have A BOOK (preferably a long-running SERIES), that can become a MOVIE SERIES (with OVERWHELMING OVERSEAS APPEAL), that can then become a TV SERIES (that you own SOLE RIGHTS to), that could also maybe become a CARTOON (broadcast on a DIGITAL PLATFORM).
That is the new POWER and PROFIT and NARRATIVE is how you get it.
NARRATIVE is now a world of BITS to be chopped, shopped, sold, and STREAMED. We are living and about to drown in A NARRATIVE TSUNAMI within the next five-to-ten years.
Because it’s how the OLD GUARD is going to SURVIVE.
Anything they can own: From a six-second CLIP, to a fifteen-minute SHORT, to an ANTHOLOGY SERIES, to a CINEMATIC UNIVERSE will be cannon-shot at all of us, on all AVAILABLE PLATFORMS, to make up for REVENUE lost to DIGITAL.
You (my fellow Collapsers) may think you’re still in charge of the MUTATION, that you’re asking for this deluge of NARRATIVE, but control is slipping —
RETERRITORIALIZATION HAS BEGUN.
NARRATIVE has been LITERALLY MONETIZED. But in a way equal to the MUTATION in CONTENT. Having the BEST STORIES isn’t how you make money anymore. OWNING and DISTRIBUTING the MOST STORIES is how you CASH IN.
NARRATIVE is literal CASH NOW. CONTENT is secondary. THE FORM is EVERYTHING. The shell, the container, the BITS OF NARRATIVE, are all FORM NOW.
CONTENT IS ANALOG…