Earlier this year, I presented a paper about digital television portals and independent media producers at the regional Big 10 Mini Conference. After receiving some useful feedback from the mini-conference, I re-worked some of the paper and will be discussing at the national FlowTV Roundtables in Austin, TX September 27-29. “The Growing Intersection of the Indie Film Business, Streaming Services, and Television” roundtable will feature brief presentations and a discussion between myself, Kimberly Owczarski, Graig Uhlin, and Katherine Marpe. You can read more about the discussion here.
The conference website will soon feature my full position paper abstract, but here is a general abstract on my position for the roundtable:
Due to the complex nature of funding films and television shows, digital film and television portals like Netflix and Amazon have found that funding and licensing independent media productions provides a simple way to bolster their global library with “original” programming. While the acquisition and licensing of content globally expands the potential reach of many types of media content, portals especially aid independent producers in reaching a transnational audience. Independent media producers have long found difficulty in distributing their content nationally, let alone internationally. Through the funding, production, and distribution of independent films and television shows, portals bolster the potential reach of independent producers globally, a form of symbolic capital. Simultaneously, the commodification of independent productions takes some programming rights away from producers, making portals the main entity profiting from the productions. This Marxian movement separates producers from the products of their labor through portals’ profit on their products.
While the majority of my position broadly discusses changes occurring in the relationship between media companies and independent producers, I specifically focus on Netflix continuing (but offering plurality of choices) traditional relationships with indie producers and Prime Video Direct offering a new form of relationship.