It’s a sad state of affairs when any movement by streaming pioneer Netflix results in reports predicting customer-unfriendly changes bound to turn the kingdom on its head. That was the case yet again this week, when the streamer began testing spots that promote its original series.
What has been an age-old practice with broadcast TV and cable channels gave rise to Netflix likely adding advertisements to its ad-free movies and TV show service. Channels spend 25-30 percent of their ad breaks with spots promoting their current and forthcoming shows. The rest are commercial ads.
So as Green Bay Super Bowl Champ and QB Aaron Rodgers said to fans after losing a few games: R-E-L-A-X! It’s foolish to connect the dots and even speculate on the introduction of ads to the Netflix service. Once again, it’s noise, not news, which serves only to confuse, not education consumers.
If there are any folks unfamiliar with the Netflix OTT streaming services, a big part of its continued rise over the last roughly decade is because it refused to carry ads. Its legions of loyal and happy subscribers would be rocked by the introduction of “ads.”
Why the Promotions Then?
For starters, Netflix – and many other OTT services – have been adding original series at a quickening pace. Even 24x7 “news” channel CNN has launched one about life in the 1970s. HBO and Showtime (the latter this week) have already launched monthly subscription services to join a growing list of options.
Once a huge differentiator, original series are virtually everywhere now. However, the best way to keep subscribers happy is keeping them abreast and teased for upcoming seasons of the ones they have – or will start soon. It’s an effective approach used more effectively and widely with captivating “season ahead” promos.
They are far more engaging than even the best ads of the last two decades and are likely as powerful when done right. These are evolving well beyond first-gen “watch our show or check out the new season” spots.
But again, these are generally promo spots, often placed on other channels to reach a broader viewing base. Nothing new here at all.
Taking a Beating
We have seen for decades what happens to companies that, like Netflix, are the undisputed leader in their competitive business. Folks need barely a twitch from the kingpin to begin raising fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding it. Others like to take direct shots at the big guy, justified or not.
Netflix, in the technology, media and entertainment (TME) space, is used to this and has triumphed over the predictions and speculation of worst-wishers. Every move it actually makes, it seems, is immediately portrayed as damaging and customer unfriendly at the very least. How has that worked, upon further review?
Connecting the dots to establish a relationship to attack is fine, but only if the dots are facts. Otherwise it’s noise, not news, and has negative effects that spread far beyond the original target. In fact, this approach by pundits and many media outlets is setting the TME segment back.
Knee-jerk reactions are for reflex tests at the doctor’s office. A rush to judgement is fine if backed by fact or at least more than non-committal words like “may” “might” “could” and “possibly.”
Critique responsibly. And enjoy the latest generation of TV shows and series promotions on virtually every broadcast and cable channel – and next on Netflix. Either way, it’s still business as usual.
Founder, Fast Forward Thinking LLC
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