Marketing & PR Outside the Box

Company-sponsored media production

In September of 2021, I wrote a post titled “Company branded podcasting network” which was about how companies can use podcast hosting as a marketing tool. This post is similar in concept but will focus on visual media and how building a production company and studio can not only be a great marketing tool but a great public relations tool.

This post will be slightly shorter, only because I have covered such a similar topic with my post “Company branded podcasting network” and I would suggest you read that post as well. In that post, I cover in greater detail concerns and tactics for success that apply to this post as well.

The Problem

I’m a cord cutter, and I like to listen to a podcast called Cord Killers which is all about cutting the cord and consuming media how you choose. One of the recurring topics that come up on the podcast and in cord-cutting news, in general, is companies killing off shows or removing them from their platform.

Customers are sick and tired of companies like Netflix and HBO Max killing shows they love without even giving them an ending, or in the case of HBO Max completely removing the shows from the platform. Customers have been taught to wait until a show is finished before even beginning to start a show because there is a very good chance that the platform will kill the show and the customer will be left disappointed.

Netflix has a habit of killing shows that don’t get enough streams within a set amount of time, (1-2 weeks), the problem is customers won’t start a show from Netflix because they assume Netflix is going to kill it. Then after 1-2 weeks have passed and customers refuse to watch the show Netflix decides it’s not what the customer wants and kills the show. Netflix is creating a self-fulling prophecy.

HBO Max on the other hand has a different problem. After their acquisition by Discovery Networks, they have been pulling content from their library and killing projects in mid-production. This has led customers to believe that their favorite show(s) or highly anticipated movie will be pulled from the platform or killed in production, and they are less likely to trust the platform going forward. Why is HBO Max doing this you ask? Discovery Network took on a huge amount of debt to buy Warner Media (the owner of HBO Max) and every show on the platform has to pay royalties to the people involved, and when you kill a movie before it’s released you can take a tax write off on the costs incurred up to that point.

Let me be clear that Netflix and HBO Max are not the only platforms doing this, they are just the two most egregious platforms doing this.

So what does this mean to customers? Customers have learned not to trust platforms, to stop paying them a monthly subscription, and turn to free ad-supported platforms, media that they already own, or even piracy.

How can companies fix this?

This is where outside companies can come in and become heroes. Let’s say XYZ inc. makes valves, they are the global leader in valves, now they want to set up a production company as a marketing platform. So they set up the production company with their name for branding purposes, XYZ Productions, and start looking for content to produce. Once they sign a few creators they can begin producing content and shopping it out to platforms, and every show or movie they produce will have “an XYZ Production” at the beginning and end of the content. They can leverage their existing valve business and do product placement, and they can use the large corporation to promote their show or movie. All this will build name recognition with consumers and build goodwill for XYZ Inc.

How company-branded production companies can be seen as the good guys.

The goal is not to be just another production company, the goal is to transform the industry.

First creators should have it in their contract that if a show isn’t renewed by the production company 365 days past the end of the previous contract then the creator has the right to take all content they have created and go to another production company. The production company will retain the right to the content they paid to produce for 4 years past the point of the 365-day mark but will not be able to sell digital or physical media or merchandise, and will only be obligated to pay 50% of the royalties that they paid previously.

Second, the goal should not be to put out as much content as possible, the goal should be to put out engaging content that consumers want. This means being selective with what to produce, some gems will be turned away and other production companies and studios will pick them up and be successful, but that is a risk that has to be accepted. These company-branded production companies are trying to build long-lasting relationships with consumers and creators.

Third, contacts with platforms should be yearly for shows and should be open-ended. Having contracts yearly means platforms will have to negotiate per season meaning if a show becomes popular the production company can demand more money. Having contracts open-ended means that you can sell the show to multiple platforms at the same time, maybe you agree to a 90 exclusive window for the highest bidder or the first platform to pick up the show, but you should always have the right to offer your contact on multiple platforms.

Fourth, work with other company-branded production companies and build your own streaming platform. This is how Hulu was built, admittedly it was built to take on YouTube, but it transformed and became a serious streaming platform for TV and movies. Not only does this give you a place to show your content that other platforms don’t want, but it’s a bargaining tool because you can show it on your own platform if the other platforms won’t agree to a deal.

Conclusion

Building an in-house production company can be a great way to market your brand and potentially generate more profit for your business. Care must be taken to ensure the goodwill of the consumer and the creator, but if handled correctly your company can be seen as the beacon of light in an ever-growing darkness of streaming media.

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