There’s a Lot of Entertainment Content. Where Do Profits Come From?

This article is part of our special section on the DealBook Summit that included business and policy leaders from around the world.

Moderator: Brooks Barnes, Hollywood reporter, The New York Times. Participants: Gail Berman, chairman and chief executive, the Jackal Group; Aryeh Bourkoff, founder and chief executive, LionTree; Chris Cocks, chief executive, Hasbro; Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business, author, founder, Prof G Media; Liz Garbus, director, producer, co-founder, Story Syndicate; Michael R. Jackson, playwright and composer-lyricist, the Living Michael Jackson, Inc.; David Linde, chief executive, Participant; Charles Rivkin, chairman and chief executive, Motion Picture Association; Stacy Spikes, chief executive, MoviePass; Cyma Zarghami, founder and chief executive, MIMO Studios.

The entertainment industry is awash in content. That much was agreed on. Whether that content amounted to a golden age of creation or an age of gilded excess, where a focus on quantity has hurt quality, was hotly debated by a task force of entertainment industry executives convened by The New York Times at the DealBook Summit in New York last month.

“This is a golden age for content artists and storytelling,” said Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a popular podcast host. “Netflix is going to spend more on content this year than all content on television and in the movie theaters for the entire 1980s.”

But Michael R. Jackson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, vehemently disagreed.

“What you’re describing as a golden age to me is like an anti-golden age because I actually think that quite a lot of quality is degraded because there is such a glut,” he said. “I want more discernment. I want more quality controls.”

Mr. Jackson quipped that he wanted “to make gatekeepers great again.”

The 10-person task force, moderated by Brooks Barnes, The New York Times’s Hollywood reporter, sought to answer the question: What is the future of entertainment? They came at it primarily from three points: content creation; platforms, such as streaming services and movie theaters; and financial models that provide the right incentives and rewards for seeing a project through.


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