Friday Five: 5 Comics About the Magic of Everyday Life
Radio Drama: "Subject 428A" (1964)

Weirdness Rodeo: Harlequin, Netflix and Reboots


Is that your brand extending, or are you just happy to see me?

Harlequin - who have always been one of the more innovative publishers (probably because they have one of the strongest brands) - are extending into... wine. I mean, why not? Even as a stunt, this is good PR.

The publisher is partnering with Vintage Wine Estates to create Vintages by Harlequin, three wines now available for $14.95 a pop on Amazon. There’s a chardonnay (“Substitute for Love”), a cabernet sauvignon (“Pardon My Body”), and red wine blend (“Wild at Heart”). “Harlequin has a deep history of creating experiences for women, and we are thrilled to bring this new opportunity to market,” Harlequin CEO and publisher Craig Swinwood said in a statement. 

Ok, almost definitely a PR stunt. But I like that Harlequin sees their role - as a publisher - as 'creating experiences for women'. That's bold language, and one that opens them up, and credibly, to making more than books.


Netflix is expected to spend over $3 billion on content acquisition. And its competitors aren't far behind. What's particularly interesting is how this spend is shifting away from buying stuff and towards creating stuff. We're already at a point where Netflix is creating more shows than anyone else (including HBO, who get a lot of credit for kicking off this whole 'TV is good again' thing - for more than this rivalry, including a lot of interesting charts). But Netflix are letting their deal lapse with blockbuster-movie-provider Epix and picking up a new one with Disney - basically swapping The Hunger Games for Daredevil and its ilk.

One of the things Netflix has learned from Amazon? Data-hoarding. No one actually knows how much we use Netflix, and how often we see stuff. When they do release numbers - they're interesting, but questionably self-aggrandising. See, for example, this study, showing - probably correctly, that it takes time for people to make a call on whether they 'stick' with a series (this seems common sense, but is in defiance of normal network behaviour). But, things are about to change - Nielsen are now proudly boasting that they've come up with a sort of measurement band-aid that will allow us to track Netflix use. Will it be accurate? Who knows?! But Nielsen have the heritage to sound credible, so the results will be taken seriously no matter what.

Netflix, as you can imagine, aren't totally delighted - for them, it is a lose-lose: either shows are watched less than 'expected' (which means Netflix  isn't the omnipresent media presence it confidently pretends to be) or shows are watched more than 'expected', which means the costs for acquiring content are going to go through the roof. My suspicion is the latter. That, plus the fact that competing platforms means that content sellers can create bidding wars, means that making new stuff is the way forward.

Reboots good and bad

Heroes: Reborn misses the point:

Heroes may have, in its deeply obnoxious way, contributed to the mainstream acceptance of the genre on our televisions. And while the new miniseries tentatively acknowledges this fact, it’s too hamstrung by its own history to delve fully into the vast, exciting territory it sees before it. Maybe Heroes was just like one of its characters — it had to die so the rest of TV could be extraordinary.

Tiger Beat doesn't:

The way teens use the internet in particular, is moving away from websites and homepages and toward content discoverable on various “tools” — whether Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, or whatever’s next...

Tiger Beat plans to use all those tools, but it’s also remaining defiantly analog. Unlike other reboots of legacy publications (think Newsweek), the magazine itself — the actual, tangible, print magazine — will remain central. Because the one thing digital culture still hasn’t mastered is the production of the physical, fetishizable, tangible object. Which is precisely what Patricof is betting on: “Once you’ve made a connection with a magazine, it’s a lifelong connection.”

And finally...

Interview with AMC's high marketing muckitymuck about the launch campaign for Fear the Walking Dead. Frustratingly vague as to KPIs (and is anyone else irked by the typo in the tweet they show?!), but a neat look into how the more clever entertainment brands are adapting to global campaigns for global launches.

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