The NYT reported last week that Amazon had recruited Louis CK, Sacha Baron Cohen, and other comedians to produce a raft of new shows for Amazon’s Prime Video service. It’s clear that Amazon – like its video competitors Netflix and Hulu – is doubling down on its investment in content production, especially after Transparent took home five Emmys.
But it’s not just video-streaming services that are hiring writers and content creators. Virtually every platform and service is moving fully into the content production space, whether it be movies, television, news, music, or original writing. Over the past year, LinkedIn has courted CEOs, celebrities and authors to publish on its content platform Pulse, and it encourages regular LinkedIn users to post thoughts and blog posts directly to the site, rather than merely embedding external content. On the other end of the spectrum, in January, Snapchat introduced Discover, a news snippet service that allows users to receive brief, curated stories from CNN, ESPN, National Geographic, and others.
Facebook has begun hosting articles on its own pages – not content creation, per se, but a step toward curation – as a means of eventually becoming the go-to source for news. Apple has taken a similar content curation role through its iOS Newsfeed app. Here, the goal isn’t so much to gather information on the user’s preferences as it is to lock customers more tightly into Apple’s ecosystem.
The rapid synthesis of platform and publisher (I won’t use the word) may spell trouble in the long run for dedicated news outlets, and we will likely see more acquisitions of content creators – like Jeff Bezos’s purchase of The Washington Post or, to a lesser extent, Verizon’s acquisition of AOL – by larger firms with cash to spare and users to acquire.
For an in-depth discussion, Re/Code’s Decode podcast provides a cogent analysis of the shift.