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The VOD Market Needs GOD

Updated on January 28, 2017

I know what you are thinking: “not another gun-toting, right-winged, Trump trucker-hat wearing, self-proclaimed prophet nut-job manifesto about the entertainment industry needing Jesus.” Nope, not me — right now I’m just interested in the money.

Recently the VOD (Video on Demand) world has realized there’s more money to be made outside our borders. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your Netflix app… Did you see that? Well maybe not, cause the titles are in English. Take a look at the trailer for some of these titles: Narcos, Sense 8, Marco Polo, Marseilles, 3%, Club de Cuervos, The Break, Chelsea, Nobel, Fauda, La Nina, Midnight Diner| Tokyo Stories, No Second Chances, Divines, just to name a few.

That’s right, Netflix is spending hundreds of millions on the production of content for foreign markets — 190 foreign markets to be exact. Reed Hastings, chief executive officer of Netflix, has blazed this transcultural market because he believes Netflix can become “more than Hollywood to the world”.

And this strategy seems to be working. In 2016 they added “60% more international customers than projected” — a success which has not gone unnoticed. Now Amazon Prime and HBO are also entering this multicultural race. And why is this? That’s right, the green.

Not to say the VOD players are solely interested in the money. Erik Barmack, the Vice President of International Originals at Netflix, has a passion for seeing local talent producing local stories. “The more local storytelling gets, the more it will resonate with a local audience,” says Erik. And the more resonance, the more subscribers, and the more subscribers… that’s right, the more money.

And this brings me to the title of this piece. It’s time the VOD market finds God. Not so they can be assured of their eternal destinies, but rather their economic futures. Hastings is clearly unafraid to break Hollywood’s exclusivism and diversify, diversify, diversify — a risk that several analysts believe could easily double Netflix’ customer base. If he’s willing to take such a risk, then why not tip the entertainment industry’s paradigm and target more than just international markets, but interfaith ones as well?

Recently I was chatting with a friend of mine on set who had just finished producing a film targeting a Christian audience. This was surprising to me, because my friend, is an atheist. However, when I asked him why in the hell he’d do something like this, he said simply, “guaranteed money”. Make a Christian film and you are guaranteed to find backers. Why?

Take a look at this stat from FoxNews last March: the top 10 Christian films (most of which were made within the last couple years) have grossed a combined $1.1 billion. That’s a lot of green right — 100 million dollars per movie? Well… actually, that’s just a drop in the bucket. Imagine what would happen if those 10 movies were made with the production and story-telling quality of Netflix or Amazon or an HBO original? Not dripping with Christian propaganda, but original, subtle “Christian” story telling.

One thing that Hollywood has ignored for years: the Christians still own the day when it comes to buying power.

7 out of 10 North America call themselves Christians, and of these 223 million (give or take) they combine to equal a buying power of 5.1 trillion dollars every year. Yes, you read that right — in 2017, Christians will spend around 5,100,000,000,000 of their holy dollars on whatever catches their eye. So, with this in mind that 1.1 billion is truthfully way smaller of a number than it could be.

And this is why my atheist friend makes Christian movies: he knows there will always be a Brobdingnagian amount of people who are willing to pay for them. And this is how Netflix or any of the VOD suppliers could easily increase their dominance — open up shop in the sanctuaries, temples, mosques or anywhere that they can find God.

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      Eric Chen 

      20 months ago

      What a missed opportunity that is not being capitalized on in Hollywood. It could be even more profitable than the horror genre!

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