Netflix instituted its long-promised/threatened ad-supported tier this week, giving consumers the exciting opportunity to shave bills up to $7 per month in exchange for selling some more of their precious time on this planet, and the sacred space that lives between their eyes, to the gods of advertising. Thus the circle is closed; thus the ritual of televised capitalism is complete.
Ultimately, however, some of the creators who have set their sights on the streamer over the past few years, sometimes in very public and big-budget ways manners – aren’t entirely mad to see the commercial break reinserted into their creative life. Thereby a report of CNBC This weekend in what sources (nobody talks on record on this onecareful, because everyone involved seems to be keep the hand that still feeds them as far away from their teeth as possible) suggest that, say, Shonda Rhimes, for example, is not crazy about Bridgerton episodes are suddenly cut short for commercials.
Rhimes was a big win for Netflix a few years ago, signing a very expensive multi-year deal in 2017 to create content exclusively for the streamer. (Spirith the biggest results so far being Bridgerton and this year Invent Anna.) This deal, of course, was signed when Netflix was adamant about not including ads in its programming.; see also the deal between Intrepid Pictures – the studio where Mike Flanagan makes all his Netflix projects – and the streamer, which came into effect in 2019. Flanagan is interesting, because CNBC notes, as his shows have often taken advantage of their streaming-only nature to play around with the format. (That is to say, if you want to watch this famous traveling episode of The Haunting of Hill House in, well, one shot, better pony for ad-free levels.)
There are a lot of little wrinkles about it, obviously, as various streamers find out, on a very public stage, how they want to integrate advertisements into their offers, now that they have understood that there is money in this wacky “The advertisement” thing. HBO Max has apparently pledged to only run commercials before and after shows, for example, refusing to break programs with commercials. (Netflix, meanwhile, said it has a team basically working to find organic breakpoints for all of its series, which sounds like a huge amount of work.) And then there’s the money: Netflix bluntly said it wouldn’t share any of these new advertising revenue with the creators of the programs on which the advertisements are broadcast; it will be interesting to see how long this the position can hold before the “sources” turn into official statements of discontent.