The Director Speaks - "Success is great storytelling and great execution"
The new season of Game of Thrones, the recent House of Cards release, and mid-season finale of Fear the Walking Dead, have all streamed to my TV during the last month. They have all been great and given that they all drew large audiences I am not alone in my perspective. These programs are also particularly noteworthy because they were all released on different platforms using very different business models. One could use these three shows to support the argument that success is fundamentally rooted in great storytelling and great execution. While there is much debate about the user-perceived merits of individual platforms and distribution systems, perhaps the focus should be more on the platforms’ ability to support the content design process and its ability to maximize the benefit of the content. While such tent pole programming determines near term success, the fan base is fickle and it is hard to determine how long specific programs will continue to thrive. And, despite the fact that data abounds in our hyper-connected world, it is almost impossible to predict when cultural trends will shift, thereby rendering existing forecasting models based on historic data obsolete. In the entertainment space, it can be especially vexing given that tent pole projects must be green-lit well before they are released and the longer the production window, the greater the probability the markets will change mid-cycle. Most content producers have developed a level of expertise in the use of social networks, influencers, and other strategies in an effort to predict market success and increase content awareness, however, the data that drives these efforts can also be reused for other valuable purposes. The same data can also be used to identify subtle cultural shifts that serve as leading predictors of changes to our content appetites. The same data might even be used to identify opportunities to capitalize on emerging release strategies. The conclusion might be that while may be many paths to immediate success, process longevity requires an ability to look past the immediate data in order to identify the discontinuities as a complement to its value in managing current release strategies.