January 31, 2023


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The biggest takeaways from the Variety Entertainment Summit at CES 2023

3 min read

The 2023 Consumer Electronics Show returns to Vegas with a slew of exciting announcements, and with it, the annual diversity Entertainment Summit. Hollywood insiders and creators filled the Aria Hotel with days worth of panels bringing in big names from Disney, Netflix, Reddit and more.

Hollywood’s top advertisers and studio executives tackle challenging issues in digital media and talk in-depth about how they drive innovation in their work. Below are our big takeaways from selected panels at this year’s summit

A recession in Hollywood is a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy,’ not a guarantee

Joining Universal Studios Group Chair Pearlena Igbokwe of diversity Co-Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Littleton reflects on the trajectory of the four studios she oversees for a headliner conversation.

Heading Universal Television, UCP, Universal Television Alternative Studios and Universal International Studios, Igbokwi spoke bluntly about how production company executives fear an economic downturn that could turn into a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

“We think we’re heading into a recession — and so everyone is immediately acting as if we’re there, and there’s all this belt-tightening and they’re laying off thousands of people,” Igbokwe said. “People won’t stop buying TV shows, they need TV shows… If you make good stuff and good shows, there’s going to be a market for it.”

Expanding the ‘Cokemelon’ franchise and building brands

Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, co-founders and co-CEOs of Candle Media, discuss the overwhelmingly positive reception of the children’s show “Cokemelon,” which the media company has received through its acquisition of Moonbag Entertainment.

“On a relative scale, it’s not the most expensive program we have, but it’s important, and that’s what we like, we like programming that’s really important to distributors,” Staggs said.

Stags revealed that Candle Media is in the process of expanding the franchise and last year launched a YouTube series titled “Cokemelon Animal Time.” Mayer and Staggs have made a total of 10 acquisitions since launching Candle Media in 2021, including Hello Sunshine, Westbrook and Faraway Road Productions.

How ad-based subscriptions appeal to streamers using multiple platforms

Jeremy Gorman, Netflix’s president of global advertising, announced his satisfaction with the evolution of the streaming platform during an interview conducted by Andrew Wallenstein, president and chief media analyst of the Variety Intelligence platform.

Subscribers to Netflix’s new ad-supported tier are growing slowly, according to Antenna research, though Gorman declined to disclose the service’s total number of subscribers. The basic ad plan starts at $6.99 per month, which is a 30% price break from the ad-free basic plan.

“The whole goal of this is customer choice — to be able to move between plans and platforms based on what people want to pay,” Gorman said. “And in this particular macro-environment, I think you’re going to see a reasonable amount of people who want to consolidate their overall streaming bill, with all the other streaming services, and say ‘I want them all, but I want them ad supported.’

The future of the D’Amelio family brand

“The D’Amelio Show” stars Mark and Dixie D’Amelio are in the limelight when the series first airs in 2021; Since then, the father-daughter duo have collaborated with fellow media personalities Charlie and Heidi D’Amelio to develop their family name into a reputable brand.

“We own all of our family intellectual property,” and now we produce all of it,” Mark said in a conversation moderated by Todd Spangler, its digital editor. diversity. Beyond merchandise, Mark revealed the family’s plans to launch a women’s footwear line in May 2023.

The family credits their traction in recent years to social media — particularly TikTok, where Charlie has more than 149.5 million followers and Dixie has more than 57.5 million.

“TikTok showed an authentic side and a more practical side, whereas for other platforms early on, people were trying to get the best picture, the best filter, the best lighting. And as a father… I would say to Charlie, ‘I can’t believe you posted that video; There are clothes on the floor, your bed is messy.’ And he was like, ‘Dad, that’s what everybody wants. They don’t want it to be perfect.’ And I had to break that cycle.”

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