Alas, Poor Netflix

I have been guilty of predicting the demise of Netflix.  This is due to my own viewing habits and prejudices.  I look at Netflix content I used to watch – Designated Survivor (cancelled), Daredevil (cancelled), Iron Fist (cancelled), The Expanse (moved to Amazon) – and I arrogantly imagine everyone is the same as me, in that sometimes I go weeks without firing up Netflix.

Thanks to Cobra Kai I think I have recently spent more time watching TV shows on YouTube than I have on Netflix.

Somebody point at Netflix on this map of Middle Earth?

Then I look at Amazon and remember I do almost all my shopping on their website so the free delivery with Prime pays for itself. I think of their wide array of classic movies.  I think of the reasonably priced rentals.  I think of The Grand Tour.  I think of Lord Of The Rings rushing towards us.  I decide Amazon has to stay in my household.

I wince at how much I pay every month for my full Sky TV package with all the movie channels, all the sport, all the music and all the kids’ TV for the family.  Then I remember how much everyone in my household watches it.  How it’s a premium service that just works perfectly.  The fact I can buy and own just released brand new blockbusters and download HD Digital copies to my Sky box.  Rent brand new movies, direct to my TV, a week before many other channels, or even before the BluRay is released.  So Sky is pretty much anchored in my house too.

Then I see Disney+ limbering up with the mouthwatering prospect of the entire MCU, everything Star Wars, the whole Disney catalogue going back decades, plus The Mandalorian.  My head gets turned.

Yet something has to give.  Another streaming or TV service into the house, no matter how reasonably priced, feels excessive.  And my gaze, like the Eye Of Sauron, turns to poor old Netflix.  Unloved in my house.  Unwatched.  It feels ripe for sacrifice at the altar of Disney+.

I imagine because I am incredibly self-absorbed, that everyone else feels like this too.  And it seems to be a common theme on a lot of websites and talking to friends and fellow movie geeks.

Netflix Says “Bring It On Bitches!”

But wait!  What is this?!  We easily forget that Netflix is pretty much still the biggest kid in the playground, and has been unchallenged for years.  It has used that time to build up an unrivalled customer base and it isn’t going to take this smack talk laying down!

Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos says Netflix is here to stay and will repel borders against any and all comers.  A timely message with the launch of Apple TV+ next Friday.

Speaking at the Vanity Fair Summit today, Sarandos was asked if Netflix felt that “…the sharks were circling.” after being so dominant in the market.  His response:

“We’ve been competing since Day One”

He also feels they have their ace already, and this puts them over Apple and Disney:

“We have one product. We make great television and films for our customers …and we have to keep doing that… We’re about change and keeping things fresh.”

He’s claims not to be concerned over losing established, keystone content like Friends or The Office.  He claims Netflix is responsible for their prolonging, rather than the other way around, and that fresh content is always the name of the game:

“One of the reasons Friends and The Office are so popular is because they’re on Netflix.

You imagine what happens when your kid comes to school: ‘I just saw this new show called Friends… part of the enduring success of the shows is they’ve been available on Netflix in a way that people can watch them and ingrain them in their lives.

Part of it also is: they sit down they push play and there it is. Friends and The Office found them, too, on Netflix.

Remember, Friends and The Office have been widely syndicated for years, still are. … A lot of that phenomenon has been because of Netflix.”

Well, OK Ted, but the thing is, I have already seen Friends and The Office.  You mentioned them so many times in your statement there, buddy, but what about the new stuff?

Another angle is that if even Fox cannot resist Disney and it’s financial reach, will they ever come for this rival?

Unlike Fox and many other media companies, he insists Netflix is not for sale.  He says there are no plans to sell and that he has never discussed selling the company with CEO Reed Hastings.

They are digging trenches and building machine gun nests.  They are settling in for a long campaign.

The talk comes as The Verge has published a letter from Netflix sent to the United Kingdom Parliament committee.  This letter was in response to a query from UK Parliament into how Netflix classifies viewers and compiles its viewership numbers.

It details three types of viewer – starters, watchers, and completers.  Each is defined by how much a household watches of a film or TV show.

A starter is two minutes or less, a watcher is 70%, a completer has to view at least 90%.  The watchers and completes are then the on,y ones counted in viewership.

All very interesting, but Netflix remains on life support in my household I am afraid.

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