Netflix is big business

Netflix and its relationship to other creative industries – is the rise of Netflix a good thing for the general public?  The success of a subscription service like Netflix initially prompted a change in perspective when it came to distribution of film and television. Following suit from Reel.com, Netflix mastered the art of subscription on demand video by curating a niché catalogue of titles available through mail-order DVD. Prior to the emergence of the cross-platform format we know today, Netflix targeted early adopters and gradually increased its market share while being at the forefront of SODV technology; harnessing the opportunities of an emerging Internet market.

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The success of subscription services and its relationship to other creative industries, has never been so prominent an issue prior to the rise of Netflix. Netflix boasts a huge catalogue, a main point of differentiation from competitors such as HBO and Australian Stan – however, copyright and licensing still affect the way the company can approach certain content. In short, this is a catalyst for competition, and content distribution ownership is big business. 

The benefit of being at the forefront of emerging technologies with a multitude of ways to watch television and film on demand (albeit, not always legal), is the freedom of choice. If I find that a particular source doesn’t offer anytime important/interesting/entertaining, I am free to choose something else. However if I’m looking for something specific, righted to a subscription service, it may be slightly harder to find a suitable alternative. This gives insight into the consequences of having a monopoly over video entertainment content.

Theoretically, if a monopoly of sorts emerged, our freedom as consumers would be vastly restricted under the guise of having access to ‘everything we want’. If such a monopoly were to occur, viewers would be at the mercy of a single private intermediary.

This price increase will impact roughly 17 million subscribers, with a JP Morgan survey quoted by Business Insider revealing that roughly 80 percent of them had no clue they were about to be two more dollars in the hole each and every month – will this keep happening??

Netflix benefits from being able to engage with viewers in a much more focussed setting. Algorithms produce data that measures real-time viewing patterns and behaviours of each Netflix account. Ted Serandos believes that personalisation is at the crux of what Netflix aims to provide, with a complicated algorithm ensuring “our brand is about the shows you love, and not about the shows we tell you about” (2014).

Personally, my impulsiveness ensures that on any given day, I don’t know exactly what I want to watch. I rarely count on Netflix having a specific title, so I use Netflix alongside a number of other channels that provide TV on demand. I still watch a large amount of linear television too.

It would seem though, that for such an algorithm to be truly useful, you would have to use it all the time and exclusively. The content produced and curated for Netflix is still subject to the ‘intuition’ of chief content officer, with he himself adding an element of subjectivity to the selection process. A major critique of trying to predict viewing patterns of audiences, is that the Netflix format could potentially be influencing them also. Narrative arcs are also changing, with some believing that binge viewing blunts the effectiveness of the end-of-episode cliffhanger – this could be a major influencer on the way content is produced.

Sponsored content and micropayments

Creating ‘original’ series’, Netflix challenges rival HBO in producing quality SVOD for audiences. While HBO has a loyal following, Netflix has truly embraced the transition online and is able to offer subscription fees at a fraction of the price of HBO. In this way, Netflix can also take advantage of its viewing behaviour analytics to create and control more hype around certain content thereby creating more engagement with audiences. Netflix recognised the inexorable nature of media convergence, and took advantage of it.

Viewers have never had it so good, but this is solely dependent on the freedom of choice.

Reference:

Sutter, K.. (2014). Front Matter. In M. CURTIN, J. HOLT, & K. SANSON (Eds.), Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television (1st ed). University of California Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt6wqc5w.1

 

 

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