Netflix, you have a problem and it’s not the shared accounts or (only) the price: it’s the content

They must not be having a good time in the offices of Netflix: the announcement in the reporting first quarter 2022 results that they have lost 200,000 subscribers for the first time in a decade has led to a tremendous stock market crash about 25% of the value of its shares. Netflix has already initiated a couple of emergency plans. First, with a battery of cheaper subscriptions with advertising. Second, putting an end to the bargain of unlimited account sharing.

Family subscriptions with four simultaneous connections have long been a real bargain due to the laxity with which Netflix allowed millions of users to share an account outside the home of the main subscriber. The figure: more than 100 million households are watching Netflix without paying what they should (30 million in the US and Canada, according to the report to investors). Here we have explained how Netflix detects that unauthorized use and how the new sub-accounts will work.

But it gives the impression that this problem, already commented on by Netflix itself, is just the tip of the iceberg: there is a clear problem with the image of the company itself, against which its own strategy has played to be the one that makes the most pitches, all the time, continuously. Its overwhelming schedule of releases, which It took him in 2020 to release 79 movies a month (and it hasn’t slowed down since then) has ended up imposing the widespread belief, verified by the evidence, that not everything has the same quality.

It does not matter that Netflix has openly declared that it is going to focus on improving the quality of its releases. It does not matter that for some time the platform has made an effort to be more transparent with its viewing figuresleaving behind the confusing criterion that with a couple of minutes was enough to count as a full viewing. Because there may be a certain general feeling that Netflix is ​​a content churrería, where quantity prevails over quality.

This strategy of launching a couple of more careful products and filling the catalog with filler products made sense when Netflix was almost the only (There was a time when HBO didn’t have a streaming platform and Disney+, Apple TV+ and Prime Video didn’t exist… and it wasn’t that long ago). The competition has led to this “more is better even if it is worse” of the platform becoming evident.

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The point is that things have changed with respect to the times in which Netflix announced that volume of releases. To begin with, the most obvious: the competition. Although at the moment no one overshadows the huge number of subscribers to the platform, Disney+ and HBO Max are not only hot on its heels in terms of number of subscribers. It is that their catalogs are tremendously competitive: Disney + has Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, plus its dean arsenal of productions and franchises. And in HBO Max, Warner is one of the few production companies that remain devoted to block buster cinematic (there are ‘Dune’ and ‘The Batman’ to corroborate it) and has the entire catalog of DC heroes, in addition to the television prestige of HBO.

Y the rest are not exactly resting on their laurels. Just yesterday Prime Video announced that will premiere the entire Bond franchise simultaneously with the arrival of May, and the strength of the catalog background that the acquisition of MGM gives it is not negligible. Against all this, Netflix is ​​running out of millionaire franchises (perhaps the transfer to Disney + of the series with Marvel characters that he treasured until recently and that gave him so much prestige and success years ago is the perfect symbol of the end of an era).

Netflix has a few powerful and genuinely its own properties left, like ‘stranger things‘, ‘The Crown’, ‘The paper house’ or ‘The Bridgertons’. Their attempts to open franchises in feature film format, such as ‘Red Alert’, are met (they affirm) with the support of the public, but except exceptional cases such as ‘Roma’ or ‘The Irishman’, do not completely rid themselves of their airs of TV-movies with steroids. They are not the only hits of hers, but with many others, such as ‘Arcane‘ either ‘the squid game‘ The idea of ​​surprise success prevails, of hits that catch the platform itself by surprise.

There is another factor where Netflix loses out when compared to its competitors: price. In four years the price of the platform has risen no less than 50%, until reaching the 17.99 euros that the premium plan currently costs that allows the viewing of the series in 4K. It is an abyss compared to the 8.99 euros per month of Disney + or HBO Max. Even cheaper are the 4.99 euros of Apple TV + and, in many countries, Prime Video is included in the Amazon Prime rate.

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The problem of episode bingeing

The situation is rounded off with a controversial topic that is not talked about much, but that is part of the very DNA of Netflix: binge-watching, the appearance of entire seasons on the same day of the premiere. It is a tactic that facilitates mass conversation at first, but soon leads the viewer’s attention to go in another direction. You just have to compare how the Marvel series of Disney + or the most striking premieres of HBO Max perform compared to the exhausting avalanche of tweets that Netflix series generate … the first weekend.

The binge-watching reinforces that idea of ​​”content dumper, regardless of its quality”, and that almost all its competitors have been abandoning. It is easy to compare with, perhaps, the platform whose perception is diametrically opposite: Apple TV +. More or less like their series, their technical finish and the feeling that they come to light when they are finished and not to cover a demanding schedule of constant releases gives the platform a very different prestige. His last big premiere, ‘Severance’has benefited from these weekly premieres: not only has it benefited the rhythm and development of the story, but it has been talked about twice, in its surprising premiere and in the conclusion of the season, with nine weeks of difference.

The only other platform that started with binge-watching, possibly because he had every intention of looking in the Netflix mirror, was Prime Video. This was the case with such emblematic series as ‘The Boys’, which in its first season came suddenly and in the second a week premiere was chosen. Even today, Prime Video continues to do so with series like ‘Upload’, but just look at how, with long-awaited and ambitious releases like ‘Outer Range’, the platform is opting for a more traditional broadcast.

Limitations to shared accounts: the lace

The only thing that remains to be seen is whether the split account limitations will make Netflix’s situation better or worse. Because It will force many subscribers to consider if they are really interested in Netflix content. Now many people who watch Netflix because they have it thanks to a friend or relative who is a subscriber will be forced to take the step of subscribing or choosing which platform they are really interested in.

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Just like we counted a few months ago, sharing accounts leads to certain dynamics that benefit Netflix even if it loses money: several people pay Netflix together, but even if one wants to leave it, they don’t because at that moment someone close to them is in the middle of a series. That shared account feeds back into itself, but when the quality of the catalog drops, nothing stops a single user from saving that fee.

Either one or the other, suppose a leap into the void for Netflix, which is too immersed in the vicious circle of your own schedule (now you can’t delete the binge-watching, or halve the pace of releases) to back off. Netflix has to stay Netflix, but with the ban on shared accounts… will that be enough?

Image: Netflix

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Netflix, you have a problem and it’s not the shared accounts or (only) the price: it’s the content