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What’s the value of original content?

Posted by Dan Hatch on 8th June , 2021 in The Write Fit
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What’s the value of original content?

If the sale of MGM to Amazon late last month is anything to go by, then on the face of it, it’s approximately US$8.5 billion.

Apple, Comcast and Amazon battled it out to secure the famous roaring lion studio’s back catalogue of 4000 films and 17,000 hours of TV content – including everything from Hollywood classics, like The Wizard of Oz, to more recent hits, like The Handmaid’s Tale.

Why did Amazon want MGM? There’s no mystery to it. Amazon Studios and Prime Video senior vice-president Mike Hopkins spelled it out clearly: “The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of intellectual property in the deep catalogue that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team.”

It’s those words, “plan to reimagine”, which make the heart sink a little. It sounds like we’re about to be fed endless remakes of the same old stories we grew up on. Emma Stone as Dorothy. Emma Stone as Scarlet O’Hara. Emma Stone as Elle Woods.

Has the world really run out of original stories?

As a writer, I am annoyed to no end by this. But as a marketer, I know there are clearly some lessons we can all take from Amazon’s example:

  • Original content is a valuable asset you can continue to leverage and make money from, years after it was created. This is as true for blogs about widgets (especially if it’s a classic, authoritative blog about widgets) as it is for golden age of Hollywood films.
  • If you continue to give good content a platform, distribute it and promote it, you give new audiences an opportunity to engage with it – potentially creating a new generation of rusted-on fans. (Most of us didn’t watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in the cinema, right? We watched it on TV years later.)
  • Don’t be afraid to update your content – even the classics. Take the time to review your content regularly. Try to improve on the worst-performing pieces, to see if they’ll perform better. But don’t be afraid to update your best-performing content, too, to see if you can make it even stronger.

I genuinely fear we’re going to be drip-fed an endless diet of regurgitated content by Amazon. Hollywood heartburn, if you will. (We’re already getting another Pink Panther reboot, which literally no-one asked for; and a Fiddler on the Roof remake, as if anyone can top Topol; and why on earth are they already remaking Lord of the Rings?)

But if anything good can come of it, perhaps it’s that we can take a few marketing pointers from one of the world’s most successful companies.

Oh, and perhaps a Gone with the Wind remake. That film is problematic. It could do with an update.

Dan Hatch
8 June 2021


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