In this piece I want to talk about the apparent fall of Netflix that many outlets are talking about: stemming from the fact that Netflix seems on course to lose 2 million subscribers this quarter and has a plunging stock price.
Do I think Netflix is dying? No not a chance, all of this would have been predicted. Do I think Netflix will remain the king of streaming? Well that I think is where things get interesting.
My short version of what I think are the ills currently facing Netflix boils down to 3 things, firstly they are extortionately expensive, secondly either due to complacency or maybe covid they have a serious lack of good new original content and are filling the service with cheap reality shows, and finally a lot of people cared about the Defenders show and now they have moved to Disney + the audience has gone with them.
Some people are angry that Netflix cancels a lot of their shows after just one or two seasons, however, I don’t think that is as big an issue for them as others think it is. A lot of other streaming services and networks do the same thing and people still watch them, this is not a new issue to Netflix.
I think the most egregious issue with Netflix is that they are no longer consumer friendly, they have lost the trust of the average viewer. They did this by jacking up the price to obscene levels apparently in order to make new programming, though a lot of those shows have yet to materialise, moreover they are trying to crack down on people password sharing and watching through VPNs. This crackdown is not in Netflix’s best interest at all, they need to do what they can to help people out during this period of financial insecurity, not trying to track down who is using whose Netflix account so they can make a few extra bucks, that leaves a bad taste. Moreover, the crackdown on VPNs doesn’t even effect their profit margin so it makes no sense to go after them unless its for legal reasons around copyright.
Furthermore, and perhaps most troubling of all a lot of the solutions it is rumoured that Netflix is considering will make the experience worse for everyone and certainly won’t help gain them any new fans. Firstly, there is the cheaper ad supported tier, which many look at with derision as it would be better for them to roll back the price of their memberships at least in the short term but no instead they are bringing in ads. The move to ads doesn’t look consumer friendly again it looks like Netflix is trying to fleece people. Secondly there are rumours that Netflix are considering doing away with bingeable releases and are instead considering going weekly, I think this will cost them as then they will just be like everybody else, they will lose any kind of originality. Additionally then a question has to be asked is it even Netflix anymore, because ads and weekly releases sounds an awful lot like standard cable TV.
What should Netflix do then? I hear you ask, well if I were them I would eat the loss and roll back prices for the next year or two to get people back in the door, then I would bring back popular but niche series for specials or shorter closing seasons to get the fans back and to give them closure, which will then generate interest and good word of mouth. I would make less content overall to save on cost as Netflix’s issue all along has been quantity over quality, and finally I would leave password sharing well enough alone.
Oh and I would ditch the gaming division that was always a terrible decision, stop spreading yourself thin and focus on making good shows and movies.
Ultimately, Netflix isn’t dying, or dead, or going away likely for a long time, but it is hurting. I think this is a result of hubris, of Netflix thinking they can take the consumer for a ride and that the consumer would go along with it because Netflix is the king of streaming, and years ago this might have made sense but now people have options and Netflix needs to get with the program and listen to viewers.
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