With each passing day, life before Netflix is becoming a distant memory, difficult to remember and comprehend. =Netflix entered the entertainment sphere as an ‘streaming’ outcast and managed to become the go-to household term for movie nights at an incredible speed. This month, our writer Zeba Adiba analyzed how Netflix managed to revolutionize the entertainment industry and permanently altered the way viewers consume media content.
The Rise To Power & Domination
From questions like ‘What’s new on Netflix? ‘to ‘Anything you’ve been binge-ing lately?’, shows how this brand and platform has etched itself into contemporary culture and conversation. Even contemporary pick-up lines now make references to Netflix, such as ‘Want to Netflix and Chill?’
A company that has more than 13,941 titles available on their site, containing 1,500 Netflix originals, 192.95 Million paying subscribers worldwide (as of July 2020), covering 190 countries, has permanently defined, changed, and disrupted the entertainment industry to the point that it is now impossible to imagine life without Netflix. It is likely that the next generation will be confused and curious to hear about ‘life before streaming platforms’ as some distant time period in history.
Appointment TV to Anytime TV
There was a time when viewers used to miss the first 5 minutes of the movie just to buy popcorn? Or people would be being stuck in traffic and as a result, missing the first half of their favorite weekly TV show? The revolutionary way Netflix was introduced in 2007, allowed viewers to choose what to watch, as well as when, how, and where to watch it. Now viewers can enjoy their favorite show when they are stuck in traffic and also on a cozy weekend night.
Netflix introduced the concept of binge-watching, where viewers could watch as many episodes of their favourite show as they wanted. They could finish the entire season of a show, without any advertisements or interruption. So basically, viewers were getting unlimited entertainment with a fraction of the price compared to traditional cable television. Let’s not forget that viewers can watch Netflix originals but also some critically acclaimed, mainstream, television shows and movies. Also, there are some shows which are immensely popular on television like Riverdale and they have been releasing only one episode per week for newer episodes. However, the overall concept of being able to go back and re-watch full seasons at one stretch is still the hallmark feature of Netflix and the binge-watching culture it introduced. According to Netflix, five of their users binge-watched all five seasons of House of Cards within 24 hours and another user binge-watched 30 shows in a row,
Making Room For Newer Ideas
Not only has Netflix made the consumers’ lives easier and more convenient, but it has also given a new kind of freedom to writers and directors to produce content they wanted to make for the longest time. Netflix has a more diverse range of consumers and they are not chasing the highest opening numbers. In 2019 Netflix released 19 original movies from first-time directors on its streaming platform of which half of the first-time directors being women and directors of color, whose films include diverse casts and characters. As a result content like See You Yesterday came out directed by Stefon Bristol which has earned positive reviews and a score of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Netflix’s business model may not provide instant gratification for investors, but through their strong brand presence (and 85% of market share in United States and 46% in Europe), they are surely going the route of steady revenue generation. Venturing into new business models and taking on challenging productions has resulted in content like Orange is the new black, Stranger things, and the House of Cards to come into existence.
Most writers and directors who wanted to create content like this before, did not have the opportunity for the longest time, since the stakes were too high and television channels/producers did not want to take on the risk. Netflix has proven their assumptions wrong, and gave consumers a completely different taste of new kind of content from the same genre. This kind of success, however, came with a cost of failures of shows/documentaries like Chelsea, Fuller House and Cooked.
Access to Diverse and Multilingual Content
Prior to the steaming revolution led by Netflix, consumers had to wait for movies from big production houses of Hollywood featuring famous movie stars to fulfil their entertainment needs. However, Netflix has taught viewers to enjoy a diverse range of content from all parts of the world. Through a top 10 list and their logarithms that recommend movies based on genre and other attributes, the Netflix platform has successfully been able to push viewers to enjoy foreign films from their favourite genres.
As a result, foreign language shows like Money Heist from Spain, Dark (a German thriller), and Israeli drama Fauda have received an enormous viewership and appreciation from audiences. It is unlikely that these same viewers would have opted-in to get paid television channels or paid for tickets to watch these foreign language films in a pre-Netflix era. The financial commitment thresholds would have been too high to commit to something with extra money in fear that it would not be worth it. However, with the same subscription fee for all Netflix content, viewers are now willing to take the risk of spending an evening exploring foreign content.
On the other hand, Netflix productions have also featured mainstream stars such as Chris Helmsworth (in Extraction), Sandra Bullock (in Bird Box) and Henry Cavill (in The Witcher). This was a great strategy to flex their muscles in the entertainment industry and show that they do indeed have the capacity to bring on Grade A celebrities when they wish to.
Giving Viewers What They Already Like
On Netflix, viewers never have to browse or be confused about what to watch next. All thanks to Netflix’s smart algorithm which automatically recommends viewers shows based on what they have watched so far, their ratings on other similar shows and other users’ reviews of that particular content. According to Netflix, these predictions were accurate within half a star, 75% of the time which is almost like receiving a recommendation from a friend who already knows their taste and preference.
Never Needing to Own Anything Ever Again
The days of having to buy or rent a DVD to consume entertainment is quickly disappearing. Netflix changed the whole concept and introduced a pay as-you-go model, where viewers can enjoy unlimited entertainment at a very affordable price. If any fine morning consumers realize that they don’t enjoy Netflix’s content anymore, they can simply cancel the subscription and move on with their day, increasing convenience with a no-commitment model.
So what is the Netflix effect? Netflix’s effect is bringing convenience and personalization at the users doorstep, it is about making entertainment so accessible and affordable that it becomes almost impossible for the consumers to imagine a life without its service. Each new streaming service has brought something different to the market, like Disney’s model of watching brand new production MULAN at a 2-ticket price accessible to the whole family, and Amazon’s Prime Video service where some special shows need addition payment on top of the monthly subscription. Whether these new models are able to take back some of Netflix’s market share remains to be seen.