Amazon’s Master Stroke

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Amazon’s Master Stroke
Number 204
Broadcast Date January 22, 2018
Episode Length 56:01
Hosts Brian Brushwood, Tom Merritt
Guests Nicole Lee

Piracy as a business model for a feature film, Netflix conquers the world, and Movie Pass’s evil genius. With special guest Nicole Lee.


Intro Video

Primary Target

Richard Schenkman directed a film called The Man From Earth.
It was low budget and had no marketing.
A screener got posted to The Pirate Bay
A week or two before the DVD release date the IMDB Moviemeter jumped 11,000%
Eric Wilkinson, a producer for the film, reached out to those sites to thank them.
They began asking people who watched and liked the film to donate on Paypal
Schenkman is on the record stating that filesharing was key to the success of the film
The movie now has a healthy audience and shows on platforms like Netflix.
The sequel Man from Earth: Holocene is available on Vimeo viewers can get a refund if they don't like it.
They have now uploaded the sequel Man From Earth: Holocene to Torrent sites themselves this time
The Pirate Bay has rich information and notes on the movie and includes tips on how to share it with others.
The torrent version includes a brief introduction from Schenkman asking folks to make a donation at if they like it.

How to Watch

Netflix added 1.9 million subscribers in the US (Up 4%) and 6.4 million internationally (Up 11%)
Now totals 117.6 million subscribers worldwide
US Pay TV has 94 million subscribers total.
3.4 million people still get Netflix DVDs.

What to Watch

The show 'Everything Sucks" is a 1990s nostalgia show for those who felt left out by 1980s nostalgia shows and movie. It arrives on Netflix February 16.
Apple acquired the rights to a 10-episode comedy series produced by and starring Kristen Wiig and also produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine company. Colleen McGuinness (30 Rock) created the series and serves as showrunner. This is the fifth scripted acquisition by Apple three of which are from Witherspoon.
YouTube acquired Bodied, a satirical hip-hop film that has Eminem as a producer. It's about a “white, purportedly progressive graduate student who infiltrates a community of diverse battle rappers for the sake of an edgy thesis.” The movie will have a theatrical release in 2018 and will also play on YouTube Red.
Netflix plans to run a series of 15-minute stand-up specials starring new comedians later this year. The specials will record in February at Atlanta's Terminal West comedy club.
Amazon is shifting from acquiring indie and niche films that will win awards to more commercial projects that attract wider audiences. That means going after more $50 million budget movies instead of $5 million. The strategy applies to TV series as well as movies.
Amazon also announced it is canceling Jill Soloway's I Love Dick, and Tig Notaro's One Mississippi.

What We're Watching

Front Lines

Sources tell CNBC that Hulu Live has about 450,000 subscribers and YouTube Live has 300,000. DirecTV Now said last month it had reached 1 million subscribers. ComScore estimates Sling TV has more than 2 million. The last PlayStation Vue numbers came from Discovery CEO David Zaslav in March last year and was estimated more than 400,000.
MoviePass announced it is going to start investing in movies. MoviePass eventually expects to make its money selling data gathered from subscribers to studios for marketing purposes. MoviePass believes it can affect ticket sales for movies by marketing them within its own app, and owning a percentage of the movie can then be another revenue stream.
Shari Redstone has changed her mind again and now thinks CBS and Viacom should merge and is pushing for new directors on the CBS board to be named in May.
Spike TV has relaunched as the Paramount Network focusing on general entertainment specializing in scripted drama and comedy. Paramount Network president Kevin Kay said “We want to make linear TV urgent again." Kay believes wanting people to watch live or same day can drive conversations around shows in a way Netflix's binge-release strategy can't.
Facebook has hired Peter Hutton, CEO of Eurosport, to lead negotiations for the acquisition of worldwide live sports streams. Hutton will join Facebook after the Winter Olympics in February.
Amazon Fire TV is getting update to show the currently airing shows and channels like HBO and Showtime which offer live streams through Amazon Prime in a grid that shows the next two weeks of programming. You'll be able to tell the Fire TV to watch those channels by voice as well.

Dispatches From The Front

Hey guys,

I thought I’d offer my two cents on both the importance of sound and using an Echo to control home theater equipment...

First, sound: I am on the audiophile spectrum but not hardcore. I like good quality sound and particularly surround sound for the best cinematic experience at home. A great picture just isn’t immersive enough for me without full, enveloping sound to accompany it. However, I really can’t tell the difference between most low-mid range sound systems and formats during general listening situations. So, I have a relatively cheap Yamaha 7.1 AV receiver, which also acts as my HDMI switcher. Everything connects to it and I have just one cable out to display. For those in apartments or places with thin walls, most systems like this have a “quiet listening” mode. This mode reduces the dynamic range for all the channels so you can keep the volume lower without missing those subtle surround effects. It’s not the way I prefer to enjoy it but I typically watch “my” shows after my wife goes to bed and she doesn’t want to hear them in the next room.

Keep up the good work!

- Tony

Hi Tom and Brian,

I may have an explanation for the sudden increase in Hulu subscribers. My son has a student Spotify account and in September they added the lowest tier of Hulu for free. This is just for the student Spotify paid membership, which costs $4.99 a month. Spotify is saying they have 70 million paid members, though I couldn't find data on how many of those have the student plan.

If these students are counted as Hulu members even if they're not using it, does that artificially inflate their subscriber numbers?

- Beelissa

Hi Cordkilllers,
Australia here. I was very interested in the email on show 203 about language. Before anyone gets too excited, yes, Australians use swear words all the time, but the words themselves aren't especially offensive. They are used for emphasis and expression more than anything, and even then visitors here are almost disappointed with how much we don't actually swear or ride kangaroos to school or work.
What did my head in was the comments about too much swearing in recent TV shows. What nearly all Australians can't understand about US TV is why in Breaking Bad someone can bet shot and stabbed repeatedly and have that shown in full and yet an F word is censored with a noticeable gap in the dialogue while their mouth is still moving.
How does that work?
I think both aspects, the visual violence and use of language, are appropriate to the scenario, but to censor a single word is jarring and completely out of context.
What the eff?
Thanks, love the show, etc etc.

- Tim

Hi guys, I wanted to add a thought about Steve's Dispatch from the Front on Episode 203. My wife and I agree that we really don't want to hear people continually using profanity. It may be true that some people habitually use that kind of language, but we don't hang out with them, and don't really want to invite them into our home either. We just turned off the new Phillip K Dick anthology after 5 minutes, deciding the proportion of profanity was just too much for the situation seen onscreen. It just seems like extreme laziness on the part of the writers. Another great example was Kingsmen The Golden Circle. After the Kingsmen organization spent all the time and trouble to teach Eggsy to be a gentleman, surely they would have taught him to express himself with eloquence and erudition in any situation. Again, it just seemed to be extreme laziness on the part of the writers. There is nothing wrong with using a vocabulary with a wider range, and there are plenty of great invectives that don't have to be scraped from a gutter.

- Dave

Hey Tom and Brian, I am your boss from other works you both do. I just wanted to give my opinion regarding last week's email about excessive cursing. I wanted to write in saying I was having the exact opposite feeling of TV lately. I was wondering if it's because I haven't watched much HBO or other premium network shows lately (since True Blood). I watch a lot of superhero shows (CW, Netflix) though and there are so many times when they are awake and getting stitches or simply being hit so hard that bones break and they DO NOT CURSE ENOUGH! I stub my toe and a word or two will come flying out of my mouth. Is it because I'm a millennial or am I simply not watching "adult" content?
I also watch House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Narcos, and The Walking Dead (please go back to watching this show, Neegan and Jadis breathe new life into it).
Sincerely, your boss,

- omgmuffins

Dear John, I mean, Dear Cordkillers,

I heard your response to my question about Hallmark's new channels. I played it for my wife and when she heard that she can get THREE Hallmark channels her eyes lit up. Guess I'll be checking about Sling TV soon.

Keep up the great work,

- John



Preceded by:
"If This Then TiVo"
Amazon’s Master Stroke
Followed by:
"MoviePass Takes a Pass"