Sometimes I think that changing landscape of the media business is like the weather: everyone complains about it but almost no one does anything. In fact, if you spend any time at all following developments in the media space, you read a lot more about the old models trying to sue the new out of existence (Aereo, YouTube, etc.) than you do about new models being adopted quickly by the older business models. So today, we have a little food for thought and an example of what can happen when a newer company adapts rapidly.
As reported by multiple sources this morning:
Netflix‘s Q1 numbers are in, and the company reports that it now has 29.17 million subscribers in the US alone — that’s 2 million more than the number of subscribers the streaming video provider had at the end of 2012. Globally, Netflix reports more than 36 million subscribers, an addition of 3.05 million new customers when compared to the end of 2012/previous quarter…This is, for the first time, greater than HBO’s domestic subscription base of 28.7 million.
And another point:
Netflix isn’t a cable network, but it competes for attention with television fare beyond just HBO. And in that context, Netflix commands more attention—87 minutes per US household per day—than any American cable network.
30 million subs at $8 at month is a quarter of a billion dollars every month in gross revenues and high engagement. Not too shabby. That money is funding original programming such as House Of Cards (the implications of which I discussed earlier). Moreover, House Of Cards itself was bought using all of the knowledge Netflix had on its subscribers’ viewing habits and preferences, something older media doesn’t have since the traditional TV ratings provide next to nothing of value when compared to the granular data streaming services have. Anyone see that changing?
A couple of years ago Netflix was tied in to physical media, which is still a small percentage of its business. It was smart enough to pivot to streaming, taking advantage of the growth of broadband and the ubiquity of mobile devices that can’t handle the physical media upon which Netflix had originated Sure, there was a rather large misstep along the way as they separated the DVD and streaming price plans. However, they did an excellent job of recovering over the last 18 months, mostly because they listened to their customers and provided increased value by adding more original programming.
The lesson I take from this is that spending energy defending an outdated business model rather than moving forward to take advantage of the new opportunities provided by market changes is ultimately a recipe for failure. Like the weather, the change is going to happen. Either dress appropriately or drown in the rain. You with me?