There was a joke for a time that everyone was getting Netflix deals. The gag being they’d buy anything. And for a time this was sort of true. They’d mirror the kind of content that was popular based on user data and theoretically this should lead to a glut of great content which keeps people engaged.
While there has been several very popular and successful shows, there has been even more failures and passing trends. Despite once being heralded as the future of home entertainment; bringing back classic shows, creating new and exciting material unbound by Studio interference, not limited by budgets and with the biggest talent attached. It’s now seen as drowning.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Not the least of which the many many competitors with the same business model who’ve popped up over the last few years, some like Apple or Disney who don’t rely solely on the success of their streaming platforms. Unlike Netflix.
What I find funny as a nobody outsider is how their public statements are so myopic to the real problems they have. Netflix rose to become the best by subverting the normal studio system – and now they are suffering because they’ve become the same normal studio system.
Why did Netflix gain such a huge foothold? They provided a large block of content at a super low price full of the best entertainment of today and yesterday. And because it was a web based thing and you could have a lot of screens you have it in every bedroom, on your phone… And your girlfriend’s place and phones and her family and everywhere.
But of course licensing is expensive and as soon as other people started to create streaming platforms it becomes even more expensive. So its understandable Netflix started to branch to original content. Stuff you couldn’t see anywhere else. Incentive to stick around.
But the literal billions they are spending to create new content at a rapid pace was the wrong choice. They slowly allowed their licensed catalogue to whittle down and lose some of their biggest movies and shows because of it. It’s impossible to realise a new Stranger Things every month, some shows hit and some shows don’t. But the established hits. The “classics” keep people on the rewatch.
Why did people buy the Friends box set? Because there was no better way to access their favorite show. Netflix gave them that and HBO took it away. Sure on a long enough timeline enough people will look back fondly on say Orange is the new black or something else and it’ll keep them hooked – but…
When you increase your price – again – and now you’re more expensive than the competitors who may not have as many NEW shows but has a hell of a lot of classics, it becomes a losing argument.
So to combat that lack of content and explain the price rises – they want to stop password sharing, cut the budgets on their new content, trim how many seasons get renewed, and… Add a commercial supported version for half the price… They may as well wave the white flag and move to weekly content drops.
No one but the richest of sadists would subscribe to Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV, Crackle, hulu, HBO Max, Starz, Showtime, peacock, paramaount, and every other streamer and Netflix.
So your average joe is gonna pick winners and be selective and well how many “favorite” shows do you have on Netflix these days? This doesn’t even get into the censorship and ability to remove what changes favor here and there.
Folks like me who gave up the open seas for the safe streams are back tracking and just Jack Sparrowing what interests us or catching cheap box sets here and there. Netflix is a cultural milestone in entertainment and it’ll be sad one day when it is bought out by one of its rivals. But Netflix are sealing their own fate. It’s like that overrated movie quote: Die the hero or live long enough to see yourself bought by Disney/Hulu.
Or something like that.