The 3 Laws of Starting a Streaming Service

The 3 Laws of Starting a Streaming Service

Apple, and Disney, have been teasing their streaming services for some time. Instead of launching, they're following 3 laws for starting a streaming service

Apple, much like Disney, has been “working” on launching a streaming service for quite some time. Most recently, on August 23, they announced they’ve greenlit a series based on Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series. It’s expected to debut in March of 2019. This is all well and good, but they could have launched this already. They seem to be following a set of rules, or laws, to starting a streaming service. These laws are great for starting one, yet, laws on launching a streaming service seem to be missing. Instead, we’re just getting more and more updates on series while Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, continue to increase their content offerings, as well as solidify their subscriber bases. It’s somewhat frustrating. The good news is that Asimov’s “Foundation” series will get some series power behind it.

Who’s Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov was a prolific writer of science fiction. He saw the genre as a place where true intellectualism could reign. Ideas could be thought over, developed, and allowed to expand without anyone putting restrictions on them. Asimov was also a curious one and loved science fiction from a young age. He taught for some time at Boston University and wrote on the side. But when income from his writing surpassed his professor’s salary, he went to writing full time. If only we could all be so lucky.

The Three Laws of Robotics

Asimov created and developed The Three Laws of Robotics. It's also what he’s most well known for.
  1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. Robots must obey orders given to it by human beings except when such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First and Second Law.
These laws have become commonplace among the die-hard science fiction fan. Not only do they provide a basis for robotics to behave, they also provide constraints. Without constraints, there’s no conflict, and even robots need conflict. Asimov developed the laws for his Robots stories. A series of short stories and novels that revolved around the autonomous creations was also where the term “Robotics” was birthed. Asimov saw robots as another character in his stories. At the time this was a novel concept and one that remained solely within science-fiction for some time. These robots, man-made though they were, developed their own personalities. As a result, some were good, and some were bad. While he does have a long list of published works, he’s most well known for writing “I, Robot.” This was turned into a summer blockbuster in 2004, starring Will Smith. And then the FX Network put it into syndication until it was overplayed. I heard there might be a sequel, but nothing new has come of that rumor. “Foundations”, though not as popular as “I, Robot”, has its own cult following. And now it’s part of Apple’s promised lineup of original content for its streaming service. Which leads me to believe that there are three laws for starting a streaming service.

The Three Laws

While Asimov’s three laws were meant to govern robots’ behavior and interaction with humans. The laws were a safeguard as well as a means to keep the robots in check. As displayed in I, Robot, even these laws have their loopholes which can be exploited. Beyond that, robots were free to live as they wanted. It’s different when it comes to streaming services. Especially when launching one. It seems every company these days has already launched a streaming service or is working on it. Those that have already done so have paved the way. Streaming services, as exciting as they are, still require a means to enter the world. Growth, oddly enough, needs assistance. Hence, the three laws.

The First Law

Build up hype. Streaming services are not created in a vacuum. To get one started, there needs interest among the general public. It doesn’t matter if it’s an entertainment company, a software company, or a retail giant, anyone can launch their own streaming service…well, almost. There needs to be a lot of money first to get the production companies involved, scout out properties for original content, and set up the service itself. To justify such costs, the company in question will announce they’ll be making their own streaming service. And that’s it. They just have to announce it and put out there a vague deadline somewhere off in the future. Walmart has set a definite deadline for the rollout of its pumped-up Vudu service. Disney and Apple, however, have taken their time. The deadline for each is a blurry date somewhere off in the future. But at least they’ve got the hype going for them.

The Second Law

Find an intellectual property that’s not too popular, but just popular enough. Asimov, in the science fiction community, it a well-regarded name. To those outside that community, he may be known, he may not be. But his name is tied in with some big movies, so there’s that. Now, the streaming service must create the original content to populate its new lineup that’s set to debut…sometime in the future. To ride the hype they’ve created, they need anchor content to build on. But most of the major production companies, and other streaming services who haven’t been sitting on their butts, already hold the rights to popular stuff. Unless they’re willing to shell out a lot of cash, they’ll have to go find their anchor content somewhere else. This is why Apple went for “Foundation”, and Disney has promised a live-action Star Wars show. Since Disney owns Star Wars, this is a no-brainer. They’ve got the rights and the money to do a series like that the right way. For Apple, they need something that can compete with Star Wars, and other sci-fi shows, without looking like a rip-off. Luckily, they’ve got Asimov. His work is original and already has a loyal fanbase. It also helps that Asimov consulted on the Star Trek movies. That fact alone differentiates “Foundations” from Star Wars.

The Third Law

Pack Big Names behind Anchor Content. With the hype rolling and the intellectual properties secure, a few big names are needed. John Favreau is behind Disney’s Star Wars show. Foundations will be headed by David S. Goyer, the story writer for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, among other highly known properties. The purpose of these big names is not only to ensure these properties are done right but to also give fans the hope that they will. Favreau and Goyer are big names. They know how to create, write, and produce content that resonates and entertains. When it comes to adapting content that’s not their own, they’ve proven themselves already. This is good news, as there are a few series out there that have been soiled by big names. I’m not going to name names directly, but Star Trek got ruined by JJ Abrams, and Superman and Justice League were messed up by Zak Snyder. Just because A big name is attached to a project does not mean it is the RIGHT big name. Think I’m wrong? Just jump on Netflix, or Amazon Prime to watch these films yourself. Make sure you’ve got the best internet and cable deals first. This way you’ll save money. But you might get a headache, so consider yourself warned.

Applying the Three Laws

For Disney and Apple, they seem to be following these three laws pretty closely. And doing a good job of it. You will notice, however, that there is no law requiring a definite start date. Instead, that’s assumed. Somewhere, off in the future, we’ll get to see these streaming services. In the meantime, we’ll make do with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the other services that have already gotten their act together.