Judd Apatow: ‘Scary’ Netflix Can License HBO Shows

Veteran writer-director-producer Judd Apatow has expressed concerns over the current trend of licensing shows between streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO. Apatow is perturbed about the impact this could have on the creation of new television content. He opined that these licensing agreements could impede the number of new shows, as platforms might opt for licensing existing content rather than investing in creating new ones.

Licensing Pacts Impacting New Content

In a recent discussion, Apatow voiced his mixture of feelings regarding the current television landscape. While he appreciates the opportunity to revisit some of his favorite series like Deadwood and NYPD Blue on streaming platforms, he is apprehensive about the potential impact on new content creation. He fears that platforms might resort to rebooting old classics instead of investing a significant amount of money in producing new shows. This could result in viewers getting fewer new shows.

Rationalising Content Creation and Licensing

Apatow further elaborated that there’s a business logic to this trend: platforms realize that acquiring licensing rights to stream existing shows from competitors like HBO could be less expensive than producing new ones. Netflix buying shows from HBO could lead to a trading scenario where every platform ends up selling its past productions to others resulting in viewers being stuck with repeated cycles of few shows.

Licensing Deals and Shift

This shift became evident last year when several Warner Bros. Discovery-owned titles, including Insecure and Sex and the City, were made available on Netflix in the U.S. as part of a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming platform, Max.

Posture on Future of Hollywood

Apatow also expressed his concerns over the corporate giants and individuals from the tech world gradually gaining control over the creative industry. According to him, their primary intent seems to be increasing screen time and not necessarily focusing on quality filmmaking.

Concerns over ‘Content’ Perception

The filmmaker commented on the shift in perspective, stating the term ‘content’ diminishes the inherent value and creativity of filmmaking. He even expressed fast-forwarding concerns over scenarios like adult websites purchasing streaming services, highlighting the rapidly transforming landscape.

The Value of Risk-Taking in Filmmaking

Towards the end, Apatow emphasized the need for risk-taking in filmmaking, citing the example of Universal’s Donna Langley, who took a bet on the Oscar-winning film Oppenheimer. Yet, he conceded that the industry tends to play ‘follow the leader,’ copying any production that gains success, instead of venturing into new territories.

Prevalence of Risk-Aversion

Sharing his perspective on the functioning of executive suites, Apatow stated that most people follow the pattern of “people like this so make more of this”, suggesting that industry decisions are not driven by depth but more by aversion to risk-taking.

Wrapping Up

The current state of the television industry, as explained by figureheads like Judd Apatow, shows a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, audiences have access to an increasing assortment of existing content through evolving licensing deals. On the other hand, this might impact the thriving creation of new content. Navigating this terrain and finding the right balance between producing new content and reusing existing one will indeed be a critical challenge for content producers and platforms. For more insights into filmmaking and TV production, head to HitPlay.

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