Fiction: "The Choreography of Masks" by David Pomerico
Radio Drama: "The Thing from the Darkness" (1942)

Weirdness Rodeo: Reboots, Adaptations and Neko Atsume

Gilmore Girls

"Why are there so many cult TV reboots?!", via the Washington Post:

But in TV, a land where every meager success is formulized, the reboots are seen as cheap bets, with often low-risk premises, washed-up stars and built-in cores of superfans.

For networks struggling to hold onto cord-cutters, and streaming upstarts pushing to prove themselves, the ‘90s reboots offer another prize: The viewers who grew up on these shows are now, a few decades later, making the decisions on cable budgets of their own.

The article notes that there are 400 original scripted series set to air this year. Any reboot - even a cult one - starts with an audience of greater than zero. Which is already a slim lead in the race for survival. (Although for many, that still isn't enough.)

538 goes probing into one specific reboot - the new Star Trek - and discovers:

There’s a pretty unmistakable problem there for the “Star Trek” franchise: Its fans are aging. Movies might stop the bleeding, but there’s an argument to be made that the only thing that can bring the fandom back is another show. That might be why CBS is making this play, and it also might inform why CBS is distributing the show on its digital platform: to reach a younger audience.

The article notes that for pre-millenials (say, a 28 year old), some version of Star Trek has been on television for the majority of their life. But for the generation born after the early 2000s, that's not the case - and franchise loyalty has slipped accordingly. There's a comparison here to Star Wars (not constant, but well-timed), but another, UK-only parallel would be Doctor Who: the shape of Who fandom is, presumably, hourglass - largely defined by the period of the show's absence.

Disney again (via The Drum) - this time selling directly to consumers with the DisneyLife app, set to trial in the UK market:

We're thinking about the consumer and the consumer today is a different consumer than before. They don't just want to sit in the living room on a couch and watch our product on a fixed screen on the wall with a remote control in their hand. They want to do it in many more ways, and they have the authority thanks to technology to make those decisions.

And with control of their 'billion dollar brands' (including, lest we ever forget, Star Wars and Marvel - plus, say, ESPN), setting up a direct channel seems a safe bet. Their main challenge is not pissing off third-party retailers. But with the demand for Disney-made products so high, it may be that the retailers will accept whatever terms they're given...

Speaking of new, direct-to-consumer subscription models... publishing still doesn't have one. Blloon (?!), following on the heels of Oyster, has closed up shop. As the CEO, Thomas Leliveld, notes in The Bookseller:

The service can only continue if the three parties, the users, publishers and service providers are all happy... A lot of publishers have an issue with the unlimited model, for good or bad reasons. I was just about to hit the button of some more investment but I couldn’t see this building in the mid to long term into a financially healthy business. Then Oyster shut down and these guys had significantly more investment that I did and I said ‘if they are having trouble, this is going to be a problem'.

He continues to (gently) push publishers in front of the bus, saying that, if they allowed subscriptions, the financial terms weren't sustainable for the company. It seems a tricky argument - you need the books to win subscribers, and you need substantial subscriber volume to both woo publishers and be able to buy (rent?) the rights in bulk.

The one subscription model that does seem to be working is, of course, Amazon's, which has:

  1. a vast pool of non-publisher-represented works to draw upon (e.g. every self-published book ever)
  2. an existing, high-traffic platform
  3. an incentive that has nothing to do with the content (Amazon Prime - e.g. get Prime and you also get the Lending Library, not the other way around)

All of which adds up to one hell of an running start.

A really entertaining piece of research from Vocativ, comparing the IMDB ratings and Goodreads ratings for books and their adaptations:

Vocativ [discovered] that the book had a higher rating 74 percent of the time. In fact, books are considered “much better” on our scale than their movie adaptations in 51.8 percent of cases.

What they found is that 22% of the time, the two were about even. And a whopping 74% of the time, the book was better.

There are all sorts of problems with this - for one, IMDB is a much harsher ratings environment than Goodreads, and that weighting isn't taken into account. For another, they're simply different media, with different levels of invest required (2 hours vs 8 hours) And, for a third (and perhaps most importantly), it isn't the same people rating both. BUT... all that said... it is a pretty fun use of statistics.

On the note of 'readers feeling smug' and 'dubious statistics', I had a chance to revisit my 'readers are better people' case for the Kindred blog. If readers are really more empathetic, does this come through in their actions? And can we put a financial value on it? (Yes. And kinda.)

And finally: Neko Atsume.

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