TV Surf Report: Branding in the Age of Streaming When Social Media Engagement Has Never Been More Important (Part 4 of 4)


Santa Monica, CA – A recent headline in Variety proclaimed that 22 million adults will cut the cord and get rid of their cable television subscription by the end of 2017. That’s a lot of lost revenue at $100/month/household.  Add to that lost revenue the number of consumers who are dubbed Cord Nevers, people who have never subscribed to cable.

Well, yikes! So, where will they go?

Answer: Streaming Services and Social Media Platforms. Even Networks know this as evidenced by CBS creating CBS All Access and launching Star Trek: Discovery there.

Studios are evolving as well as evidenced by Disney which is set to premiere its own Streaming Service in 2019 with New Star Wars Series As Its Center Piece

Let’s discuss, shall we? We are covering new ground here, as are these specific companies, so they are discovering their respective Brands as they find their unique super-hits and go from there, producing similar shows in order to capture a consistent audience base.  The one factor all share is Youth.

Baby Boomers, although they have money, are unlikely to Adapt in great numbers.


  Streaming Services:

Amazon is an interesting case study in Branding. It can deliver Anything Anywhere Anytime within 24 hours or same day. That’s pretty much its current Brand. I think of it also as having a strong tie to Publishing, and its development relies heavily on IP (see below).

Notably, the company is spending $4.5 Billion in original content creation this year. A huge chunk will be devoted to its recent acquisition of the TV Rights to J.R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings.

The New York Times Reviews Its Comedy Pilots

  • Signature Series: Transparent, Man in the High Castle, Catastrophe, Mozart in the Jungle
  • Demo: Everyone
  • Twitter: 2.69 million are talking about something they just bought!
  • Notable Development: A multi-season commitment to a prequel series adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings which reps a Huge financial risk should it fail. Rotten Tomatoes Predicts Possible Storylines for LOTR Series Amy Sherman-Palladino’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been ordered for two seasons based on its Pilot. Homecoming, an adaptation of a Podcast about government conspiracy with Julia Roberts set to star; Good Omens, a 6-episode hour-long comedy adaptation of the Terry Prachett/Neil Gaiman novel with Michael Sheen and David Tenant set to star; The Underground Railroad, a limited series from Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight); Jack Ryan, an adaptation of Tom Clancy’s spy series with John Krasinski (The Office) set to star; a re-boot of Starsky & Hutch with director James Gunn (GOTG) executive producing; The Romanoffs from Matthew Weiner (Mad Men);  Agatha Christie Mysteries with BBC One; a continuation of Galaxy Quest (no original cast set yet); Mercury 13, a mini-series from Brad Whitford and Amy Pascal about 13 women behind space flight; Too Old to Die Young is a crime drama set in the underbelly of LA and stars Miles Teller and Jena Malone as assassins.


Netflix is an international force to be reckoned with, but what is its Brand, and does it even need one? Am thinking it could be We Have Something For Everyone.

The company is spending $6 Billion in content creation, $100 million of which is going to uber producer Shonda Rhimes. In 2016, Netflix produced 46 original series.

  • Signature Series: House of Cards, Stranger Things, The Crown, Orange Is The New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Defenders, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist; Black Mirror; The Punisher, Grace & Frankie, Fuller House; Alias Grace; Disjointed; Frontier; One Day at a Time
  • Demo: Everyone
  • Twitter: 3.77 million (strong)
  • Notable Development: A lot of Comedy Specials; multiple spin-offs of House of Cards (presumably without the recently fired Kevin Spacey); a re-boot or another installment (TBD) of Armisted Maupin’s Tales of the City; a re-boot of the campy ’60s family drama Lost in SpaceDanger, Will Robinson!; an adaptation of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It (10 eps.); The Haunting of Hill House starring Timothy Hutton in the 10-episode adaptation; The Witcher adaptation which is like Buffy 2.0; Maniac, a comedy series starring Emma Stone, Jonah Hill and Sally Field; The Umbrella Academy, a new super hero show with Ellen Page set to star; The Good Cop with Tony Danza and Josh Groban; Huge in France, a comedy about a star comic who relocates to LA with his model son; Godless, a Western starring Michelle Dockery; Messiah, a 10-episode limited series from Roma Downey & Mark Burnett; a Sabrina the Teenage Witch horror spinoff from The CW’s Riverdale (20 episode order); Altered Carbon, a sci-fi series in the vein of Westworld meets BSG (premieres 02/18).


Hulu made big noise earlier this year when its original series adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale won the Emmy Award for Best Drama.

But what’s its Brand: Nostalgia?

Unlike Amazon and Netflix, Hulu does not have a global reach. However, it does have four parent companies: Fox, Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. The streaming service has committed $2.5 Billion for original content creation, per Variety

And, Hulu has a strategic partnership with Spotify aimed squarely at Students, a desirable demographic for advertisers. Lots of series to binge here (new and old until studios start pulling out their content to reserve for their own newly created streaming service a la Disney).

  • Signature Series: The Handmaid’s Tale, Shut Eye, The Mindy Project, Difficult People, Chance, Sarah Silverman Loves America
  • Demo: Everyone
  • Twitter: 516k
  • Notable Development: Marvel’s Runaways to premiere Nov. 21st; Future Man from Seth Rogen and starring Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) as a Janitor By Day/Gamer Super Hero by Night; Castle Rock, an anthology series;expect lots of IP-centric development, titles people are already familiar with and presumably, once liked.

YOU TUBE LOGOYou Tube is owned by Google. Now, this is a Streaming Service to watch. Anyone else notice it sponsored The World Series? Very interesting.

As for its Brand, the company is evolving a brand from Your Video Here to something new, You Tube Red. Digital Influencers will be a large part of their programming.

The Hollywood Reporter Breaks It Down

  • Signature Series: Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken; 96 Hours With Katy Perry; Simply Complicated with Demi Lovato
  • Demo: 1.5 billion monthly viewers (yikes!) 18-34, youthful but edgy
  • Twitter: Um, who cares. (70.4 million!)
  • Notable Development includes a Karate Kid series in 2018. Original star Ralph Macchio returns for 10 episodes; a documentary from rapper Warren G; a continuation of the Step Up franchise; a musical comedy EPd by the Russo Bros. (Avengers: Infinity Wars); Impulse, a Doug Liman-produced drama based on the Jumper novels; Show Me More, a behind-the-scenes show with Ellen DeGeneres; Liza On Demand, an 8-episode half-hour comedy.



Apple is a Blue Chip Brand, and I would not bet against them, especially since the company is devoting $1 Billion in producing original content in the next year. Variety Projects Apple to Spend 4.2 Billion by 2022

  • Notable Development: A 10-episode re-boot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories with Bryan Fuller (American Gods, Hannibal) executive producing. Jennifer Aniston returns to television with Reese Witherspoon in a drama about TV’s morning shows. Jay Carson (House of Cards) scripts this project which has been ordered to series with a 2-season pickup of 10 episodes each. Impressive get. Witherspoon is all about Strategic Partnerships, so I expect this to be another Creative Win following the success of Big Little Lies on HBO in which she partnered with Nicole Kidman; a new Space Drama from Ron Moore (Outlander, BSG) wherein, the Space Race never ended.

Social Media:


Facebook has a video hub, called, Facebook Watch, and the behemoth Social Network plans to spend over $1 Billion on Original Content in 2018 alone, per The Wrap

  • Signature Series: Humans of New York, Ball in the Family
  • Demo/Reach: 2 Billion monthly users, worldwide; 13-34 is their target audience of 75 million users, a stat that is up for debate since Users state their age which may or may not be truthful.
  • Notable Development: Jessica Alba and Mike Rowe are to star in original content. Bill Murray and Brian Doyle Murray are set to star in Extra Innings, a 10-episode series about Minor League Baseball.

Instagram A recent headline in Variety read that Instagram has over 500 million daily users and over 800 million monthly users. Wow. That’s a lot of eyeballs. Also the amount of videos uploaded has quadrupled in the last year.

Owned by Facebook, it’s only a matter of time before some form of Original Content gets produced and advertised on this social media platform.


Snap Chat wants to turn your phone into a remote control for Television consumption. That said, the messaging service popular among younger users is not interested in creating long-form content, so don’t expect to watch an hour-long drama on Snap.  Videos will most likely be 3-5 minutes in length.

Make no mistake, though, Snap intends to be a Player. Snap has some work to do first, though. It’s not growing fast enough, and its design is troublesome for new Users: There’s An Overhaul In Snap’s Future

  • Signature Series: Supplemental content to existing series like The Voice and The Bachelor
  • Demo: 173 million daily users. They are young: 12-34.
  • Notable Development: Time Warner (one of several strategic partners) signed a deal to produce 10 new shows, per Variety


Twitter seems doomed, which is a shame because it’s so useful.

No one wants to buy my preferred social media platform. A certain POTUS likes it, too. Advertisers are there, but it cannot seem to turn a profit. Even expanding its Tweets from 140 characters to 280 seems like a Hail Mary attempt to innovate. However, the death knell is that Twitter has problems attracting new Users, especially young ones. Ouch.

Bloomberg News Breaks It Down – #RIP Twitter


N E X T   U P:

A Room With THE View at SMU


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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