Netflix a new era opened a few days ago after the announcement that Reed Hastings was leaving his position as co-CEO of the company in the hands of Greg Peters, one of the most prominent subordinate executives, and Ted Sarandos, until now also co-CEO and head of content for the streaming platform. The departure of Hastings is not due, as some media have erroneously pointed out, to a resignation due to poor results of the company, but that it is a decision taken with time, although it does represent a turning point. He’s been at the helm of Netflix since 1998, transforming the home-delivered DVD rental company into the video-on-demand giant it is today. So that, What is the direction that Netflix will take now? After analyzing how television will change in 2023 in 9 keyswe delve into the challenges ahead, as well as some of the recent statements from the two men who will be in charge to help us get the picture.
1. Netflix has peaked in terms of subscribers
This is something that we have been observing for the last two years: Netflix subscriber growth in 2022 (check here the ranking of the 60 best Netflix series in 2022 Y The best Netflix movie releases in 2022) it has been practically flat, unlike previous cycles where, year after year, millions of new users were added and conquered territories. Especially, it seems clear that Netflix has peaked in the United States. “There are many, many countries around the world that we’ve barely penetrated,” Greg Peters told Bloomberg“Indonesia is a good example. India is a great example where there is huge untapped potential. Basically, we have entered a new phase of growth there, which is very exciting. We are seeing India like we saw Korea and Japan.”
But do they have that ability? Precisely, India has always been spoken of as the great goal to be conquered, but the platform resists it. Unlike territories like Europe or Latin America where American content works very well, these countries need a high number of their own content to arouse the interest of the user and that implies a very high production cost and, in turn, these contents do not travel as well abroad.
2. More than 490 million dollars at stake
It is estimated that in the United States and Canada there are about 30 million people who use Netflix without paying, that is, with the account shared with another person, and 70 million worldwide. This means that if those 30 million people paid for their own subscription, the company would earn an extra $490 million.. Hence, they want to change what has always been their flagship policy: a few years ago they boasted that sharing the password with a loved one was the most beautiful thing in the world, now, they will have to pay.
Although it is not entirely clear, it seems that March is the date set for this change and that customers who want to maintain multiple shared accounts will have to pay extra or make a new account. On this matter, there are many doubts. Will Netflix really smack down $490 million or will those non-paying users be gone forever? For now, the company has already tried to turn off the tap in some Latin American countries and, although there is no data on the rate of dismissals and reinstatements, the experiment should not have gone wrong if they continue with it globally.
Peters makes the following assessment: “These are people who know how to watch Netflix. They have seen some things on Netflix that they have loved. Our job in the next two years is to get them all back. We’re not gonna do it from the start. Some people borrow it because of the prices, because they’re less committed, or whatever. But if we offer a ‘Wednesday’ each week, or a ‘Daggers in the Back: The Glass Onion Mystery‘, we’ll get the majority back.”
3. Most profitable series
Another of the statements by the company’s coCEOs that brought a lot of tail was that of Ted Sarandos regarding cancellations. “We have never canceled a successful series. Many of those shows were well-intentioned but appealed to a very small audience and had a high budget. The key is that if you’re going to a small audience, you have to have a low budget. If you do that right, you can do it forever“. Beyond how questionable it is to say that they have never canceled a successful series, it is interesting that it points to a key: profitability.
Sarandos seems to be telling us here that They can’t keep a series like ‘The Warrior Nun’ alive, which is expensive for the number of viewers it has, but one like ‘heartstopper‘ that few people saw but it was cheap. Or that ‘1899’ despite having good audience results was not enough for what is required of a series from its budget, that is, that it be a huge phenomenon in the style of ‘Wednesday‘ either ‘stranger things‘. So, let’s be clear, any “expensive” series on Netflix will have to be a global hit if it wants to survive. That, or that we will have many modest series like ‘Ginny and Georgia’.
4. Where I said, I say Diego…
After years of being very inflexible on certain points of its business model, recently Netflix has had to give in and adapt to the times. and the competitive and saturated streaming market. One of the examples is its already mentioned policy regarding sharing accounts, but not the only one. They have also had to enter movie theaters, have opened up to the advertising business, and are even experimenting with content programming strategies other than the marathon. A few months ago, we wondered if it was It was a mistake or a success that Netflix did not give in to the weekly broadcast.
Greg Peters assures that the subscription with ads is not going badly, although they have work ahead of them in the coming years, compared to analysts who consider that this novelty has not stood out too much. On the other hand, they rule out launching a free version with ads soon (“don’t expect it for this year,” Sarandos said) although perhaps later. Also, also are experimenting with live broadcastssuch as the transmission of the SAG awards or the next Chris Rock comedy special (which may open the door to something that has been speculated for years: the company’s entry into the bid for the sport).
Thus, although Sarandos and Peters try to maintain an image of firmness and that everything remains the same, or that Netflix does not need to undertake major changes to remain the leader in the streaming market, the truth is that, on the contrary, they enter a stage where experimentation and change will be a constant. And this is not bad per se, far from it. But if the platform does not want Disney, Amazon and others to eat the toast, it has to play and try new strategies. Its pillars are less and less immovable.
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Netflix, new era: what will the future of its series and shared accounts be like?