50 Cent’s rise with Power
I recently caught up with a well-known record label head (someone near the top of those annual power player lists). The person asked me, “Who is the Ryan Reynolds of music right now? And you can’t say Jay Z.”
Reynolds had just sold Mint Mobile to T-Mobile for $1.35 billion. In 2020, he sold Aviation Gin to Diageo in a $610 million deal. And as we speak, the 46-year-old actor is likely filming Deadpool 3. Twenty years later, Van Wilder is still the big man on campus.
I thought about the question, paused, and said, “It has to be 50 Cent.”
Twenty years after Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 50 Cent still makes waves and trolls the best. His Power spinoffs have their own spinoffs. His champagne Sire Spirits has exclusive partnerships with multiple NBA teams. And true to character, anybody can get it, whether it’s the head of a premium network or a long-time foe.
50 is right there with Taylor Sheridan, Ryan Murphy, and other showrunners with reliable TV franchises. But Power succeeded despite its network, not because of it.
Starz has seen better days. In 2016, Lionsgate acquired Starz for $4.4 billion. Recently, Wells Fargo assessed the premium network’s enterprise value at $864 million, less than 20% of its purchase price. Lionsgate has publicly tried to sell the company for the past year.
In 2018, 50 and Starz signed a four-year multi-series deal worth up to $150 million, according to sources. That’s in the Jay Z – Live Nation range of deal sizes. It’s a partnership that Starz has made its money’s worth from.
On The Town podcast, Parrot Analytics’ Julia Alexander said that Power shows drive 25% of demand on Starz. It’s a high number, but it’s really high. That 25% demand exceeds Taylor Swift and Drake’s combined share of Republic Records’ 2022 on-demand audio streams. When demand share is this high for one franchise, who’s helping who: the network or the producer?
Power has found its core Black audience through Starz. And it may have gotten a more lucrative deal from Starz, given its “underdog” position in premium streaming. But that Netflix bump is real, and that HBO Max bump is real too. Could this franchise have been even more prominent on a more robust network, especially given the challenges 50 and Starz had?
In Beyonce’s streaming strategy explained, I described why Beyonce released her Coachella documentary on Netflix instead of Tidal, where she had an ownership stake. There are two reasons: money and distribution. First, Beyonce received a reported $20 million for that documentary. There’s only a handful of networks that can afford to pay her. Second, and most importantly, Netflix reached nearly 200 million subscribers at the time. The broader audience adds to the Beyhive buzz and word of mouth that drive her brand.
On a big platform like Netflix, Homecoming moves further to the top of Beyonce’s funnel. You never know who became a more passionate Beyhive member after watching that doc and has now booked a weekend getaway around the Renaissance Tour.
50’s already won with Power. G-Unit Studios & Film is growing by the day. He has a new partner with Fox and has big dreams for his cinematic universe. But the operator in me thinks bigger. What real-life events can bring this big rich town to life? What do AI-powered, fan-fiction-minded experiences look like? The more interactive, the better.
It’s harder than ever to build an original series that consumers care about. Power did it. It’s a solid position, and 50 has nothing to prove to anyone. But there’s more room to grow even further if he wants it.