retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Two stories this morning suggest how the business model is changing in the entertainment business, which I think should serve as a cautionary note to people in pretty much any other industry who believe that their businesses are somehow resistant to change, or will not be affected by the shift in the balance of power to consumers.

The first story has to with "The Good Wife," the CBS TV series, which the network said yesterday has been licensed to Amazon.com for reruns beginning later this year.

According to the piece, "the deal crystallizes a shift in sales of reruns. Historically, TV stations dominated the rerun market, bidding for rights to air broadcast-network reruns. In recent years cable networks have also become big buyers of such reruns. Only recently have online outlets become a factor in the market, usually for years-old series."

The Times writes that "reruns of 'The Good Wife' will be available on traditional TV outlets, including Hallmark and some local TV stations, next year."

Of course, the whole notion of "TV reruns" is an almost obsolete construct ... since at this moment, I can go on iTunes and buy every episode of the series and watch it on my laptop/iPad/iPod/iPhone.

But the larger point is an important one - which is that traditional venues are becoming less important, and businesses need to embrace the alternatives ... because that's what consumers are doing.

The other story comes from Variety and concerns a proposed feature film sequel to the old "Veronica Mars" TV series. I never saw the show, but it apparently had something of a cult following.

However, Warner Bros., which owns the rights, was reluctant to greenlight a film version because it wasn't sure there was enough fan support.

So the show's creator, Rob Thomas, and star, Kristen Bell, made a deal. They'd go on Kickstarter.com and try to raise money for a film. If they hit $2 million, Warner would agree to back a movie.

Yesterday, within four hours and 24 minutes of the proposal going live on Kickstarter.com, they had $1 million. They hit $2 million by last night, and as of this writing, they've gotten crowdsourcing commitments for $2,565,410, or 128 percent of what they were looking for ... 29 days to go on the offering.

Variety writes:

"The blistering pace of incoming coin surprised everyone involved with the project, which still has 29 days left to pad its budget. As with many Kickstarter efforts, producers laid out incentives for fans — who are not equity partners, ergo see no fiscal return — ranging from a PDF of the shooting script (pledges of $10 or more) to a speaking part in the film (the highest pledge of $10,000, which was promptly claimed). Other goodies include a T-shirt ($25 or more), Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack ($100) and signed posters ($200 or more).

"As 'Veronica Mars' speeds into production, it’s easy to imagine a clutch of similar efforts to adapt low-budget cult properties that never found financial backing. TV shows 'Firefly,' '24' and 'Arrested Development' (which Netflix is now rebooting for television) had all been kicked around as possible films. None went the Kickstarter route, but might soon reconsider."

There is no question that I'd kick in money to see film versions of "24" and especially "Firefly." But more importantly, this story points yet again to the shifting balance of power, toward the consumer, and how this is influencing content and marketing decisions to a greater extent than ever.

It's all an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: