Netflix is now the king of original programming, beating HBO

Everything changes. First, network television fell to HBO. Now, Netflix just beat HBO at its own game:

More American consumers picked Netflix as having the “best” original content than any other premium TV and Internet-video subscription service, well ahead of perennial leader HBO, according to a new survey by Morgan Stanley.

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What’s next? That’s the point. No one really knows. Everyone wants to take the crown, but with so many princes vying for it, it’s hard to pick a winner.

For filmmakers, this is the best of all possible worlds. Movie studios, network TV, traditional distribution, and the entire indie route are all still viable. Cable networks are doing just fine. Video on demand is doing very well. Streaming video on demand is doing well and getting better. And on top of it all, House of Cards removed any remaining stigma of premiering on-demand.

But there’s a gotcha. With all these options, how do you know you’re getting the best deal?

Netflix might make you an offer, but they pay a single lump sum, which permanently limits your long-term upside. Or maybe you have a deal from a small indie distributor. Do your research, because many of those distributors have relied on being able to sell to Netflix, and since Netflix is increasingly buying direct, these distributors might not be able to follow through.

But then again, it’s hard to get deals anywhere, so maybe you should take it, or offer them rights to part of the world only, or maybe a time window.

From experience, here’s a piece of advice. If you made a film, congratulations, but bring on the right team to sell what you’ve made. Focus on making more, and pick a team that understands you and your goals, and knows how to protect them during the sales process. Who should you go with? Well, we’re biased. But we’d be happy to talk.