Olympics to go on without fans, Universal makes a deal with Amazon

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The Olympics are still set to go ahead in Japan, even after Tokyo declared a state of emergency following a spike in coronavirus cases, which meant barring spectators from most events. Photo by Shutterstock.

Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo after a spike in coronavirus cases. This news comes as the Olympics are scheduled to begin there in two weeks. In an attempt to keep case numbers under control, Olympic organizers have banned almost all spectators from the games. 

The NBA played games mostly without in-person fans in 2020, and ratings were way down, even for the finals. There’s fear that the lack of spectators will cause a ratings disaster for the Olympics as well, and that’s a big problem for NBC and its streaming service Peacock. 

Peacock was supposed to launch with the Olympics in the summer of 2020. The games were postponed, but the launch went ahead, to not very impressive results. To date, the streamer only has about 3 million paying subscribers. NBC will attempt to draw viewers to the streamer by putting events including gymnastics and swimming exclusively on Peacock, but with the games taking on a muted tone, it’s not clear how much of a draw those competitions will be. 

Meanwhile on the movie side, NBCUniversal is changing its post-release strategy. Universal movies used to go to HBO after they played in theaters. Starting in 2022, their films will now go to Peacock for four months, then move over to Amazon Prime Video for 10 months. Amazon paid $1 billion to be the exclusive home of Universal films after their time on Peacock. This deal is a major change from the types of arrangements studios typically make with streamers — usually films go to one place for 18 months or longer. In this case, Universal is hoping to create a new pay window by sending its live-action films to Peacock for a shorter period of time before sending them to Amazon.

And in news from Sun Valley, Barry Diller, who used to lead Paramount and Fox, told NPR that the movie business is over. He says little of what he sees coming out of the industry today resonates the way films did in the past. 

"These streaming services have been making something that they call 'movies,'" he said to NPR. "They ain't movies. They are some weird algorithmic process that has created things that last 100 minutes or so."

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