The entertainment industry is growing and changing. Here’s a snapshot at whose spending money on original programming and its implications for animators and visual development artists looking for jobs in the industry.
- Billions are being spent on new content for streaming, TV and theatrical release.
- Netflix & Amazon spending billions on new original animation.
- More work for visual development artists, animators, and VFX specialists.
- Apple & Facebook order new animated shows.
The world loves to Netflix and chill. Binge watching is now definitely a thing we all do. And people want new content, basically all the time.
People want constant entertainment and they’re willing to pay for it. The content business is a very good business to be in and the money is flowing into a new production at all time highs.
The SNL skit about Netflix is a wonderful parody of the reality that the largest entertainment companies are spending billions on original programming, both live action and animated. The line between live action and animated has blurred with visual effects driven franchises.
They are spending billions becuase streaming has disrupted distribution advantages and the only real value in the future is having original content that people love. Any start-up can offer a streaming service, the real value will be in ownership of the best content. Disney is launching it’s streaming service November 2019.
So they spend, a lot. Hoping to find directors and artists whose stories captivate people and entertain audiences.
For Visual Development Artists, Animators or Effects Artists, their services will be highly in demand across a large number of animated and live action productions.
The Great Content Arms Race
This chart is useful to see who the largest firms are, but it’s not totally clear how much of each total is on new original content and how much is spent on licensed programming. For artists and animators, the main companies to look at here are Disney, Netflix, Viacom, Amazon, Apple & Facebook.
Disney : Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, Blue Sky, 20th Century Fox.
When we say, “Disney,” we are now referring to a parent company that encompasses a large number of popular brands. Disney Animation Studios and Pixar have created dozens of beloved animated films. Star Wars is probably the most popular series of the last 40 years. Marvel films are grossing billions through theatrical release. And Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox, now makes it the owner of the Blue Sky library, including the Ice Age and Rio films.
Although it appears the Fox acquisition will lead to layoffs at Disney, it appears most of those jobs will be in distribution and marketing, and most likely not affect investment in original programming. In fact, with Disney’s coming streaming service they committed to add $2.5 Billion annual spending by 2024, on original content.
Disney is a gold standard in our industry and is highly competitive to work at. It’s no secret that they are spending billions on new films and shows, but working there will require that you are incredibly dedicated to your craft and can show that in your portfolio.
Viacom : MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central
Viacom recently ordered 800 new episodes from it’s Nickelodeon unit. They are re-investing in their most proven titles including, Blue’s Clues and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Working at Nickelodeon is no doubt a fast paced, tv-focused pipeline. Viacom is a giant in the kid-media broadcast segment. They employ thousands of artists and have created shows that many love.
Who the hell wouldn’t want to work on a show called, Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty.
Netflix : 90 Million Subscribers & Growing
Over the last 5 years Netflix has surged into the top tier of spending on original programming. A silicon valley unicorn that rightly understood that with distribution simplified, the real advantage in the future is original content. So Netflix has been spending, a lot. They expect to spend $15 Billion, with 11% of that, or 1.1 Billion, on animated content in 2019.
One billion dollars on new animation is great for our industry, and according to Netflix and Amazon these numbers will go up. By 2022, Amazon and Netflix will be spending nearly $7 Billion annually on animated original content.
The streaming platforms are exciting for artists becuase they allow content with a cult following to find space on their platforms. You don’t necessarily have to focus on a mass audience. There is just more room to tell different stories in different ways.
Everything from Hilda to Bat-man Ninja can live on the same platform and employ different types of artists.
It now appears that Netflix will create an animation division internally, led by animation master James Baxter. Netflix’s success will translate to more salaried positions for artists looking to work in production.
Amazon, Apple & Facebook
Each of these massive technology companies have made no secret of their desire to get in to the original content business. They’ve got the money to spend so why not create some compelling films and shows that people love. Plus you’ll get invited to parties with movie stars, so that’s a plus.
Amazon recently ordered Undone, a new animated series from the creator of BoJack Horseman (Netflix).
Apple ordered an animated comedy from Loren Bouchard, who will co-write it with the Bob’s Burgers‘ executive producer Nora Smith and actor-writer Josh Gad (Frozen).
Anything animated with Josh Gad involved will be worth watching. He was brilliant as the voice of Olaf in Disney’s Frozen.