With the writers’ strike in its second month and a potential actors’ strike looming, someone is going to have to find a middle ground. And on Tuesday, CBS chief George Cheeks outlined one way writers and studios could still find a compromise.
It has something to do with windowing and licensing content. Streaming leftovers have been one of the WGA’s main sticking points in the negotiations with the AMPTP, particularly because there aren’t enough of them. But what if streamers started to rethink exclusive hoarding of all of their content and instead windowed or licensed their shows and movies to other outlets, whether it’s putting them back on cable or broadcast, to other streamers or on FAST (ad-supported free streaming television) services, suddenly there are new opportunities to pay for residuals.
Cheeks said Tuesday at the Banff World Media Festival in Alberta, Canada, that he is open to doing just that, including potentially putting Paramount+ shows on linear to help expand his audience.
“Only upside is, I actually think it’s going to help us with our creative partners because one of the big issues that they’re complaining about is streaming residue,” Cheeks said Tuesday (via Variety). “But I think the more we’re not locking down shows to one platform, (the more) we actually license more revenue to studios and get more residuals for our partners.”
It turns out that this old-fashioned idea of licensing is becoming all the rage. Amazon announced it would do this with a handful of shows and movies. Disney is reportedly exploring the possibility of doing the same. And Warner Bros. Discovery, after moving many of Max’s shows, plans to move them to their own FAST channel.
But as Cheeks said on Tuesday, the reason this is happening is because the equation for how to impress Wall Street with streaming is changing.
“Over a year ago, it was ‘calculate your streaming, build your (subscriber acquisition) at any cost, profits be damned.’ That was kind of a warrant. And then suddenly it became the other way around,” she said. “Now it’s ‘how fast can you get to profitability?’ And if you’re already profitable, how do you increase that profitability?It’s forcing all of us to step back and really rationalize our spending on content, and forcing streamers to question whether it’s really a sacrosanct view that we need to have everything exclusively on the platform.
As the writers have made clear, fixing the streaming residue isn’t the only issue that will lead the guild to end this strike, but it’s a big one and one that the filmmakers have already made progress on in their own negotiations. And in terms of what that means for how CBS plans to move forward this fall, Cheeks is still “confident we’ll all find compromises.”
“The tentative deal on the DGA deal has been helpful; let’s see what happens with SAG,” Cheeks said. “I would just like to say that unlike broadcast where the series model is tight and works very well for our creative partners, I think the way the series model in streaming evolves poses serious challenges for the creative partners who we have to understand.”
Elsewhere in the conference, Cheeks revealed that “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” has been extended for another three years, and also confirmed that “The Late Late Show with James Corden”‘s spot will now be “@Midnight,” as it is been previously reported but never confirmed. Comedy Central’s old game show/variety show featured comedians riffing and reacting to internet memes and viral videos in a series of different mini games. The show was hosted by Chris Hardwick and ran nightly for four seasons. The only reason it hasn’t been made formal until now is that Cheeks said the writers’ strike prevented CBS from locking out a showrunner and head writer, but that will happen once the writers’ strike is over.