April 1, 2022
Photo: P. Lehman/Future Publishing via Getty Images
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we’re crunching the numbers on “CODA’s” big night at the Academy Awards. Plus: what to read, watch and play this weekend.
When “CODA” was crowned Best Picture at the Academy Awards Sunday night, it made history for being the first movie from a streaming service to win the prestigious award. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have aimed for years to achieve this goal, making it a bit of an upset that late-comer Apple was first to get Hollywood’s ultimate stamp of approval.
Bragging rights aside, did the win actually make a difference for Apple TV+? Data that analytics company Samba TV shared exclusively with Protocol this week suggests the win did indeed give “CODA” a notable viewership bump.
There’s no win like an underdog win. Hollywood’s biggest awards show has long helped generate buzz for movies, and just having a film nominated does help to grow its streaming audiences. However, the impact the show had on Best Picture nominees was notably unequal this year.
There’s something to be said about availability here. “Dune” streamed on HBO Max for a month last year, and then disappeared to give theater sales a bump. The film finally returned to streaming in early March.
What this means for Apple’s broader TV ambitions is anyone’s guess. The company has been tight-lipped about its video service’s subscriber numbers, but Apple TV+ is clearly a lot smaller than some of its key competitors.
“CODA’s” Oscar could help Apple TV+ grow its audience, but the bigger impact is likely on Hollywood itself. Before Sunday, Apple TV+ was a service that comparably few people were actually watching. Now, Apple executives can brag that they can help movies like “CODA” go for gold, which will help strike new deals that can then further accelerate its audience growth.
— Janko Roettgers
If you’re a CEO these days, odds are that your CIO understands something you may not: your company’s cybersecurity strategy is fundamentally flawed, and has been ever since your organization began using cloud-based services.
“Investigating Three Indie Superstars Accused of Emotional Abuse” — People Make Games. The latest in-depth investigation from YouTube channel People Make Games helps dispel the myth that the game industry’s pervasiness harassment, sexism and discrimination issues are restricted to larger or more traditional studios. The 40-minute video focuses on three indie darlings — Mountains, Fullbright and Funomena — and how leaders of each created abusive work environments. Since the video went live earlier this month, Funomena announced it may close down due to a lack of funding.
“Atlanta” — Hulu. Donald Glover’s dark, hilarious and often surreal drama centered on hip-hop manager Earnest "Earn" Marks has returned for a third season on FX/Hulu, this time relocating the narrative to Europe during an overseas tour leg for Marks’ rapper cousin Paper Boi. We haven’t seen a new episode of “Atlanta” since 2018, and the show’s superstar cast and writing and directing talent have all been plenty busy with other projects.
But Glover and director Hiro Murai’s unique flavor of social and racial commentary and often biting pop culture criticism has been sorely missed, and early reviews already have “Atlanta’s” third season as just as good, if not better, than the last.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land — Nintendo Switch. The newest Kirby game has landed on the Switch, featuring the titular voracious pink puff and its new Mouthful Mode, which is this entry’s twist on Kirby’s traditional power-stealing metamorphosis ability. Instead of becoming a new being, though, Kirby just takes on the shape of whatever it eats. It’s hilarious and outrageous in equal measure, and players who like the newer Super Mario games and have a fondness for the linear simplicity and the adorable art direction of these Nintendo classics will surely find Forgotten Land worthwhile.
Sky: Children of the Light — iOS, Android, Switch. Thatgamecompany of Flow, Flower and Journey fame took a radical new direction with Sky: Children of the Light, which released on iOS in 2019, Android in 2020 and Nintendo Switch last year. But speaking at this year’s Game Developers Conference, game director Jenova Chen outlined how Sky took an altruistic approach to free-to-play monetization on mobile, resulting in more than 40% of the game’s seasonal passes being gifted to other players.
Sky is now Thatgamecompany’s most successful title to date, with more than 160 million players as of this year. For those who might not consider themselves traditional gamers, Sky is a fantastic way to experience accessible, high-quality mobile gaming absent any form of exploitative monetization.
“Silicon Valley Founders Are Not the Protagonists of Reality” — The Nation. A lot has been written about the rise and fall of tech founders, with countless books and documentaries and TV shows diving into their professional and personal lives. But what if we step back from all the glitz and glory and maybe even schadenfreude? It’s there that we see that these founders are nothing more than businesspeople, and as Malcolm Harris puts it in this great article in The Nation, the founders are nothing more than “symptoms of a finance-led economy.” And unless something changes, these won’t be the last founder stories we hear about.
As a business leader, you need to understand that zero-trust is not just another buzzword. It’s a fundamentally different mindset that you will need to embrace — and the sooner you do so, the better.
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