Dear Netflix: We Won't Sleep

April 24, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

That’s deep.

During Netflix’s Q1 earnings call, Reed Hastings said that sleep is really the real enemy to Netflix and that others like HBO or Amazon aren’t the bigger picture when it comes to naming the who’s who of the streaming service’s competition.

“We’re like two drops of water in the ocean, of both time and spending for people.”

There’s some more philosophy for you. Yet it’s not all entirely quirky sounding. In fact it makes a lot of sense. People subscribe to more than one streaming service. So it doesn’t matter to viewers what they watch because they’re going to go where they know they can get what they want.

What makes Netflix stand out is in how they deliver that content.  

So truthfully, Netflix is what captured our minutes this week.

Here’s why:

1. It is streamlining access to unlimited content.

You probably didn’t ever notice this as something particularly ground breaking, but that sign in greeting is important.



Netflix offers literally thousands of titles. Binge watcher or not, it’s going to take a viewer a long time to get through it all which basically means there is a vast, seemingly limitless amount of content on there. Oh, and it all gets regularly updated.

But Netflix doesn’t just vomit it all out onto your screen. No, it streamlines the content by:

  • Changing the titles depending on the user so you can immediately watch your favourite show

  • Making personalized recommendations based on our watching patterns

  • Allowing you to pick what you pay depending on your needs from the streaming service

These are simple ideas, maybe even considered a given by some. Yet the truth is, not everyone offers this kind of personalization.

You may not blink twice when you click your name from the log in screen, but we’re willing to put money on the fact that there’s some inner part of you that is satisfied by Netflix making you feel special and accommodated all from your couch.  

2. Netflix owns original content.

Netflix’s 2017 budget for original content production is $6 billion.

WOW. Imagine if we could all have $6 billion content budgets? One can only dream.

Its investment into its original titles is paying off: the quality is fantastic.

From movies to TV series, Netflix is listening to what people want and is tapping into nostalgia (Bill Nye the Science Guy!), history buffs (The Crown), millennials (Girlboss), and topical issues (13 Reasons Why).

These are huge buckets that people simply can’t get enough of. So not only are audiences’ favourite titles available, but their new favourite are following closely behind and completely exclusive to Netflix.

Exclusivity + Personalization = Complete Enrapture

We’ve always said this and we stand by it: people like what they like and typically they like the good stuff.

3. Netflix also owns stand-up comedy.  

This used to be an HBO thing, but not so much anymore. Netflix has everybody from Kevin Hart to Louis C.K.

It’s made a point of getting the latest content from comedians so that if you missed it live you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own home.

Bringing that live experience home for people is particularly important because it means more access. Audiences still love the live experience because they crave the artists being right there in the same space as them. Still, they can’t always afford it.

For Netflix to give people the opportunity to see these events (and not years after they happen), it’s a sign of understanding peoples’ needs.

It’s always in with the new for Netflix and this is something that today’s consumer continually expects when they can get bored so easily.  

4. Netflix doesn’t run on a per transaction basis.

When you buy something on iTunes, it’s per item. Per song. Per movie. Per iBook, etc.

Sometimes it makes you stop and think, “huh, do I really want to pay $1.29 for this song?”

Nope.

Call it laziness, call it a budget, call it whatever you want. The per transaction basis can sometimes be a turn off. Each time a consumer visits a content distributor you’re hit with a charge and as much as the modern consumer isn’t dumb enough to know not everything is free, it’s like a little poke in the side each time.

With Netflix’s subscription model, it’s already covered. You don’t need to think about it. You want to binge watch that entire season of Downton Abbey? DO IT. Want to switch half way through to your favourite rom-com? Yup, you can do that too.

Subscriptions aren’t new, but stepping back to realize the convenience of them gives one a fresh new outlook. Instead of consumers seeing a wall each time they want a piece of content, they’re simply welcomed back.

That’s how you keep people’s minutes. 

Ultimately in Netflix’s battle against sleep, we’d say it has good odds. They’ve got their quality content and unique presentation to thank for that.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?


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