I love that ‘Netflix and chill’ is a thing. If someone had told me ten years ago that, as grown adults who can legally drink and finally have the disposable income to do so, our dating lives would consist of going to someone’s house to watch glorified TV, I would have laughed. And yet, here we are. And you know what? It’s actually pretty great.
I mean, what’s not to love about Netflix? You pay a monthly fee and get access to loads of high quality original content and all the old favourites you’ve been pining for. And movies too. And you get as much as your Internet connection can handle, for less than the cost of a chicken salad wrap. The deal is sweetened further by a total lack of ads and an incredibly intuitive interface that remembers where you’re up to in a number of different shows, makes suggestions based on what you’ve watched and automatically cues the next episode. You hardly need to move. Netflix and chill indeed.
Netflix has been hailed as the saviour of TV, and it’s certainly done a lot to boost the waning serialised show format. But Netflix did this by releasing entire seasons in one go and letting viewers watch as much as they wanted. End credits came to mean a bathroom break, not a whole week of anxious waiting and viewers loved this. It was binge watching at it’s finest.
But this is slowly changing and millennials are not impressed. We trusted Netflix to always give us what we wanted, when we wanted it. That was the deal, right? Yet, a few short years after winning our hearts, Netflix is no longer acting like a good friend, anticipating just what we need as we sulk in bed with a tub of ice cream. I’m no doomsday prepper, but I think Netflix is acting a bit like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While the content is still great, episodes are now being released as part of packages, or on a weekly or semi-daily basis, mimicking the traditional TV cycle.
Netflix is now acting more like some kind of drug dealer, dictating new rules of engagement and drip-feeding us just enough content so we stay addicted. That wasn’t part of the deal and it sets a worrying precedent. What comes next? Will Netflix charge for complete seasons? Or perhaps we’ll be forced to sit through ads to get access to them? It doesn’t make sense for Netflix to delay episodes unless there’s a financial incentive to do so.
Ad free, instantaneous streaming is one of Netflix’ unique selling points (USP) and if Netflix continues to mess with it, it’s going to find itself in trouble. USPs (like the name suggests), are what sets a brand apart from it’s competition. It’s the hook that reels in the customers and any business should be very careful when they start playing with theirs. If your company is no longer sufficiently meeting its USPs, customers will find a company that will.
Netflix might have its original content to cling to, but much of its content is licensed by other streaming services, meaning that viewers can get their fix elsewhere. Brand power is a strong force, but when you get between a millennial and their binge-viewing, you’re asking for trouble. This is especially true when you’re dealing with millennials; savvy enough to know where else they can turn for content and loud enough to tell everyone else.
There’s no question that Netflix is King, however if it continues tweaking it’s formula, drawing out episode releases, or even allowing advertising, viewers are going to revolt and head to competitors like Stan and Hulu, Apple TV and Foxtel, SBS on Demand. Hell, they’ll even go back to traditional TV!