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The Business of Content

Feb 4, 2020

In 2020, Netflix is projected to spend $17 billion on content. Disney will spend $24 billion and AT&T will shell out over $14 billion.

With all that money on the line, there’s an enormous amount of demand for new intellectual property that can be adapted into movies and TV shows, and a lot of that IP is being drawn directly from magazines. The Oscar-winning film Argo, for instance, is based on a 2007 Wired article, and the critically-acclaimed Netflix miniseries Unbelievable is based on a longform Propublica article published in 2015. 

This rising demand means that Hollywood is throwing larger and larger sums of money at journalists just to option their articles. All that money has had a distorting effect on the entire magazine industry, with writers increasingly pitching more narrative articles in the hopes of luring a Hollywood agent. 

At least that’s according to journalist James Pogue, who recently wrote a piece for the Baffler about what he sees as the negative impact of the streaming wars on magazine journalism. I recently interviewed Pogue about this phenomenon and why he thinks it’s changing longform reporting for the worse.