Netflix: The Game Changer (Not New)

Netflix was pretty much a game-changer day one of its incarnation. I wrote about this three years ago, though it was true long before that. Strangely, others are now only finally coming around (seeing articles popping up as if any of this is actually new) to what I thought was inevitable even before I wrote about it so long ago.

Being apart of an instant gratification generation that’s grown tired of brick and mortar movie rental shops, late fees, and dinosaur cable companies who make you pay for 150 channels just to get the only three channels you wanted in the first place.

Lately, many reputable blogs and websites are scratching their heads over the recent release of Netflix’ original “TV” series House of Cards, in which they released as a whole season all at once instead of the standard one episode at a time format and are speculating if this structure can “survive” and be viable. I use quotations for “TV” as clearly Netflix transcends TV and all the restrictions that come with it.

This is all a no-brainer in the right direction. Netflix already has a plethora of entire television series that one can watch bulk episodes of in one sitting until you watch the entire series via Instant Watch. They already have the stats and know that people enjoy this freedom in viewing before ever releasing an original series in such a format. This new format is a very calculated risk and is not some wacky fly-by-night affair as others are implying.

Take a five season series, that when originally aired literally took five years to play out (one season every year). This was never about the consumer. It’s purely about dragging it out as long as possible for ratings and ad revenue, branding, press, etc. (except for stories that rely on a coming of age aspect where they really need their actors to get older throughout the series, think The Wonder Years). Otherwise, there is no comprehensible benefit to the viewer concerning the old format. We have to wait patiently for a new episode and we lose that enthralling continuation aspect and have to rebuild it each week.

This is why there ever became a “Previously On” intro to TV shows in the first place, because in a week most people in their busy lives probably did lose parts of where they last left off. Netflix is void of commercials and having to play ball with regular cable restrictions and so forth. Netflix is making the perfect decisions within the limitations of its platform, which there are very few.

Furthermore, it’s not as though they must use the exact same format for every show they release. Some shows might get a full season release, some may span one episode a day, and others the more traditional once a week.

Netflix is essentially all the best parts of entertainment mediums wrapped into one, think Showtime meets home video. Watch what you want, when you want plus the added benefit of Netflix still essentially being able to broadcast to its customer-base.

That is the entire appeal of Netflix, freedom from the quickly becoming out-dated cable ways.

While I wrote about this three years ago and none of this surprises me, today I would probably update my wording to “Netflix to become the new cable.” I predict that we’ll not only continue to see original programming from Netflix, we’ll eventually see the likes of Showtime and HBO ending or revising contracts with Comcast, Dish, DirecTV, etc. and opening up to leasing out to Netflix as add-ons. $10 more monthly to add-on Showtime to your Netflix account or something to that effect.

This is really all common sense and inevitable. You can’t stop progress. The only way to compete with Netflix is to copy them, period. This has been true for cable since Netflix first brought us streaming TV and movies. And it’s been true for brick and mortar movie stores like Blockbuster (who was smart enough to finally start closing down a lot of their storefronts and getting into the internet game) since Netflix began. Netflix is indeed a game-changer, but it’s essentially one continuing game-changer which isn’t news, and the fact that it can’t be ignored if competitors want to stay in the game I find astounding, that this is only been sinking in for the past couple of years.

Traditional cable is akin to printed news, DVD, and fax machines. While they still have their place, this generation has moved onto blogs, Blu-ray (soon to become extinct itself by digital media), and email.