I used to be at a pal’s home this weekend, having a dialog I think will likely be replayed numerous instances over the subsequent few weeks. It’s a dialog that doesn’t bode properly for Netflix.
To minimize a protracted story quick, my pal requested if I’d began watching the brand new season of Narcos.
“What new season?” I requested.
“The one set in Mexico.”
No. Not solely had I not watched it, I wasn’t even conscious it existed.
Which was particularly odd as a result of I’d watched the primary three seasons of Narcos and had been on Netflix a number of instances over the weekend and so their vaunted algorithm ought to have served it as much as me.
I regarded up Narcos after I acquired dwelling and oddly Netflix didn’t point out that there was a fourth season.
So I went to Google and discovered that there was certainly a fourth season, however it wasn’t known as “Narcos” however somewhat “Narcos Mexico” and for some motive, Netflix, in its infinite knowledge, had chosen to not hyperlink it in any option to the unique Narcos.
This is an issue that you just’ve possible heard me warn about earlier than: Netflix has far too many reveals and never sufficient time to advertise all of them.
If Narcos, Mexico have been a weekly sequence, Netflix would have a four-month window to promote the present and let viewers of the unique Narcos know new season was again on, albeit in a special setting and with totally different characters. But given the small window that Netflix has with its present “release all episodes at once” protocol, it’s straightforward for them to overlook their shot.
Yes, they will nonetheless serve up advertisements for the present three months from now, however it’s not straightforward to maintain observe of what viewers have and haven’t seen, and as extra individuals interact in “purposeful viewing” (e.g., utilizing Netflix to look at a sure present somewhat than shopping round to search out one thing to look at), getting the phrase out through the Netflix homepage and its algorithm turns into infinitely harder. Not to say dearer as Netflix will possible have to spend greater than their present $2 billion on paid media.
And that’s simply the primary a part of in the present day’s Netflix Dilemma.
Second, though I actually preferred the primary three seasons of Narcos and actually wish to watch Narcos, Mexico, there are a bunch of different reveals I’ve on my “binge list” that I haven’t gotten to but. So I both have to rearrange my binge checklist or Narcos, Mexico will go unwatched for at the very least a month or two, possibly longer given the calls for of the vacation season.
That’s an issue for Netflix as a result of subsequent yr, my choices are going to increase exponentially. First, there’s Netflix itself, which is spending $eight billion on new programming. Then there are Amazon and Hulu, two providers I additionally subscribe to, that are additionally spending significantly massive eight-figure quantities on authentic programming, a few of which could show extra compelling than Narcos, Mexico.
That alone could be sufficient to maintain most viewers feeling like they have been by no means going to catch as much as all of the reveals they needed to look at, however 2019 can be the yr that Disney goes to launch Disney+, WarnerMedia goes to launch the as-yet-unnamed “Warnerflix” (aka “HBO on steroids”) and Apple goes to launch its multibillion-dollar “Appleflix” service too.
The legal guidelines of physics would appear to make it unimaginable for anybody to maintain up with this upcoming “content bubble”—there simply aren’t sufficient hours within the day.
Which leads us again to Netflix: aside from new seasons of a handful of hits, the whole lot on Netflix goes to be what in enterprise jargon is called “net new”—reveals nobody has ever seen earlier than.
That means they’re going to want a while to develop an viewers, to realize some buzz, to get individuals so as to add them to their “mental binge list” as a result of three totally different mates advisable them or as a result of they learn a evaluate that regarded actually fascinating.
That’s a considerably daunting process for a advertising and marketing staff if you’re rolling out a dozen sequence over the course of a nine-month season. It’s subsequent to unimaginable if you’re rolling out greater than 100 new sequence and you’re releasing all of the episodes directly, giving every week or two at most through which to seize individuals’s consideration. There’s additionally 5 main rivals, all with equally massive authentic sequence budgets and powerful title recognition.
That means there will likely be much more misses than hits. That numerous reveals on Netflix and all its rivals will wind up having only one 10-episode season. Even in case your purpose is to acquire and retain subscribers somewhat than seize excessive scores, a bunch of 10-episode single seasons is just not the best way to do it.
It additionally implies that it’s very attainable that a number of of those new “Flixes” is just not going to have any hits in 2019—a harmful proposition for an organization making a multibillion-dollar funding—and that the battle for expertise is about to get much more heated. (Because there’s not sufficient expertise to create greater than $15 billion value of excellent authentic programming.)
But principally it implies that one of the best present of all subsequent yr may wind up being the drama that is going to play out as all these new providers bump up towards one another, seeing who lives, who dies, and who’s coming again for season two.
It’s what the publishing business used to name a “real pageturner.”