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What is Netflix?
Netflix is the world’s leading internet TV Network with more than 37 million members in 40 countries watching more than one billion hours of TV programmes and films per month. Since Netflix launched in the UK it has received a mixed response. It has challenged the likes of Love Film to focus on moving forward their digital on demand service, which was being developed and rolled out at a fairly sedate pace, until their (Netflix) arrival. And also driven the progression of the industry through Sky Now and others, to embrace affordable subscription services for digital TV, heavily focused on multi-channel. Netflix has to be admired for what it is, direct access to great content, some old, some new but a great mix of content for what is a relatively small amount of investment for the consumer. It is available on all devices:- smart phones, HD consoles, smart TV, TV on demand services and of course desktop. Giving consumer access to content on the platform of their choice.

How does it use content?
The initial reception that it got focused on what it didn’t have, it wasn’t the latest TV and Film content, which was jumped on by Sky Now, drawing on the fact that Netflix doesn’t, nor has ever claimed to, deliver only the most up to date content, however what it is doing is looking at how it can be useful to the consumer and utilising great content to entertain. The cost of a TV box set has always been astronomical, when ultimately that content is free, accessed through the TV network as weekly episodes. But if a consumer is engaged their appetite to consume 3, 4, 5 episodes on the trot is very compelling with this service. Consumers rarely re-watch this type of content and the investment is considerable if the intention is not to sell it off afterwards and re-coup some of that investment. The film industry back-catalogue is vast and as sales dwindle it helps to give visibility to content which might normally pale into insignificance or driven by high promotional activity and bundling to drive value on costly retail shelf space. For catalogue, there are a few first timers, hoovering up the deals and seasoned enthusiasts-that still feel the need to purchase every film they have ever watched, yet will rarely watch again.

Why is it so effective?
Netflix has removed the high cost to entry for a plethora of content and now it is taking the next steps to move forward this service in an admirable fashion. ‘#houseofcards’ and #Orangeisthenewblack are both exclusive series that Netflix has invested in to drive value in its service, again bringing this content to its members as a value add for the existing service and driving value in the service for the consumers that didn’t believe in it from the start. Globalisation of services is crucial, digital / social has created a demand for global services where it is just not acceptable any more to the consumer to not have access to a product that is available in one market earlier than another market and in fact global release dates that are not aligned can seriously affect the product uptake in following markets.

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How is it progressing the service?
‘Breaking Bad’ is the latest phenomenon for Netflix, having identified that this product has a thriving global community following who eagerly anticipate each next iteration, the service helped to drive the globalisation of this product in the first place after all. Netflix has just delivered a TV innovation with the Final series of Breaking Bad being aired live at the same time in the UK and IRE as it is in the US. Had Netflix not just embraced consumer demand through its global prowess and allowed a global audience to view this as each episode was aired in the United states, the P2P file sharing sites would have been hammered with every aching fan scrabbling to get to the next episode and out and out refusing to wait. But alongside feeding the appetites of this global fanbase Netflix also took a step back. This company also recognised that not all of its consumers are the same, some of its audience are nowhere near the final series of ‘Breaking Bad’ yet they are having the final story line rammed down their throats at every social media titivation!

How is it addressing social challenges?
So, Netflix had identified a potential challenge to trying to address the needs of the early adopters, which could damage the experience for the rest of their membership. Rather than ignore this, they chose to listen and empathise, they took a step back and in turn focused on how they (Netflix) could be useful to their whole community, Enter ‘Spoiler Foiler’ Netflix Presents Spoiler Foiler, a censorship tool for twitter to hide discussion around the new series.

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Consumer response has been great to #spoilerfoiler this execution has no direct monetary value attached to it, they are not going to sell advertising round it (please don’t prove me wrong here Netflix) they are simply empathising with their consumer who is desperately wrestling with series 2 and 3 to try and understand the story, before the whole phenomenon is ruined for them. Netflix has made an investment to support its wider community and help people to battle the voice of social media in a good way. For those who aren’t at the cutting edge of the latest ‘Breaking Bad’ release, this simple micro-site, allows consumers to log in with their Twitter account and automatically hide all the current tweets about Breaking Bad, simple, considered and embracing ‘Brand Utility’ – (how a brand can be useful).

The fundamentals of this are not new, consumers have different needs, your community is different, support them to keep them engaged. Every brand should be thinking about how it can be useful to its members, customers and people that buy into its service.

Here are some other great examples:

A Useful Guide to Brand Utility

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