Monday, September 19, 2011

10 Things I'd Like to See Netflix do

     I love Netflix. I use it nearly every day. It is perhaps the most available service I have going. It's on my Playstation 3, my Wii, my PC, my Mac, my AppleTV, my iPhone and my iPad. So here are 10 things I'd love to see Netflix do. My main thoughts are as a consumer, but you'll notice some of these just might make the bean counters of the world happy too. 

1. Produce Original Content
     In recent years fan campaigns have kept (at least temporarily) some shows on TV. [See this and this] But in general lately the network exec trigger fingers have been very nervous. Good shows that need some time to catch on just don't seem to have a chance. Is there any show today that is the must see TV that NBC Thursday nights used to be, nope. So here is a space where Netflix could endear itself to fans. A portion of the enormous funds they have offered to host content from the networks could be used to "poach" good shows from the big three networks. I for one would be happy to see a 6th season of Chuck (albeit without Morgan as the Intersect) after NBC decides that its third attempt to cancel the show would be its last. If well done, this could prove an effective way to pull in some loyal subscribers especially if the paired their database of preferences with that of a certain 600 million user plus website. In addition to saving some of the legion of shows axed before their time each year, they could (very, very, carefully) launch some original content. (Time will tell if their first known effort will succeed. I hope it will)

2. Invest In Exclusive Deals
    The current tales of Netflix's demise all stem from a single problem, the lack of exclusive deals. In order to get around this they struck a deal with Starz to stream their content. (Recent renewal negotiations broke down and show no signs of resuming) In the years to come, as some of the existing exclusive deals expire Netflix will need to open its wallet wide to get some of that exclusivity to their service. The entrenched powers will fight hard, but let's face it, we are living in an internet world and   the strategy of replacing cable with on demand services as Netflix is could easily win the eyeballs of millions more than it already has. Just as the DVR has sort of killed the live TV viewing audience. Exclusivity will go a long way to making Netflix near as big as the competitors who have finally noticed it and are seeking to destroy it.

3. Buy Hulu
     Since they say they've stepped out of the bidding for Hulu I believe that it may not be a bad purchase. It opens the opportunity for a bunch of newer content and a couple of options for additional revenue streams. For example, they could add that content directly into their streaming service. Maintain the content as separate through the Hulu plus service, or add a tier to their existing offerings for this "premium content". Further keeping this content out of the hands of competitors with deeper pockets and larger advertising budgets may well be worth the price of admission.

4. Social Integration
If Netflix could implement some significant social integration they could really take advantage of the myriads of social media users worldwide. It could literally use Facebook to do its advertising for them. The advantage of a like button for every movie, show, and episode could be enormous for the provider. Not to mention the advantages of deep social integration through Facebook, Twitter and even Google+ whenever it gets fully off the ground. As mentioned earlier, the data collected from the millions of global preferences, could give them much better information than the networks use to determine what shows to axe. This could help Netflix to build on the promise that it has and start delivering on all of its potential. In the updated version of Frequency (which will undoubtedly be produced 10 years from now) Netflix could be the stock tip sent to the past instead of the now extremely lackluster Yahoo.

5. Get Older Eyeballs
     Conventional wisdom in marketing is to get them while their young and as a result everything we see is geared toward the young. Have you noticed that even in commercials for Depends, the people look too young to need them?? At present though we are living in a world that seems built for Netflix to buck conventional wisdom. Consider these factors before you scoff: 1: the population is aging, 2: Older content is dirt cheap, 3: Access to the service is simple and addictive. In this case, I  need to look no further than my own home. My mother is a fifty-something widow who is just slightly above computer illiterate. Despite this, she navigates Netflix with ease and frequency. She actually uses the service more than I do. Thus while they wait for some of their other initiatives to catch on, they can market to the folks who never got to see Netflix commercials in their youth. As their catalog improves even more will cut the cord and go to Netflix.

6. iCloud like service for Video
     Even before it launches i believe that Apple's iCloud service will be huge. A similar service for video could be equally great. In fact, having instant access just to my own collection of digital video would be great. Thanks to the multitude of lawyers in the world, I imagine that developing such a service would be infinitely more complicated. The added revenue stream and modernity that such an addition to the Netflix family would provide though, is probably well worth the effort.

7. Individual Rentals
    I have found Redbox to be a suitable alternative when I want to see a video that isn't available on Netflix. I would much rather have the option to instantly rent such a title. I can see a million reasons for them not to do this, but the part of me that is too lazy to drive half a mile to Seven Eleven would totally love this.

8. Add Music Videos to Instant
     Since MTV (formerly known as Music Television) has all but abandoned the music video. I'd love to be able to see these on demand, whenever I want to. And since the music video has never really been a money making enterprise, I think this should be an easy get.

9. Add Live Content
     I am not sure how well live content will do online. Youtube has recently added some live content and others have been considering it. I'll say this though, there is only one reason I pay the ridiculous amount I do each month for cable, and that is live sporting events. No streaming that I have had to date has proved suitable to me. If they could conquer this landscape, I would cut the cord and never look back. Seriously, have you ever met someone who loves their cable company??

10. Rewards Program
     I believe that Netflix should create some sort of rewards program that would reward their subscribers. This would be particularly useful when they inevitably are forced to increase their prices as they battle against cable and satellite providers in the not too distant future.

     Well, I doubt the guys ate Netflix are listening, but on the off chance that you are, please make my dreams come true!!

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