A recent story in CNN crowned streaming media pioneer Netflix “arguably king of media.” With apologies to the self-appointed king of all media, Howard Stern, they may be right.
Netflix has certainly been on a roll lately. The media company recently took home its first Academy Award, for the documentary “Icarus,” and fans are excited about the entertainment giant’s upcoming slate of original programming. The second season of “Jessica Jones” is about to be released, and that’s just one of the critically-acclaimed and fan-favorite shows that have earned Netflix nearly 118 million subscribers.
Netflix on top
While the competition — Fox, Disney, Time Warner and Comcast Universal — all won multiple statuettes, these companies didn’t see the same Oscar bump that Netflix is currently enjoying.
Where movies and kids’ shows were once the linchpin for Netflix, and the company still offers plenty of both, the real cash cow for the company is streaming original content such as “Stranger Things,” “The Defenders,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Narcos,” “The Ranch,” and miniseries such as “Godless” and “Gilmore Girls.”
Through all its original programming, Netflix has found a unique mix of nostalgia — like “Gilmore Girls” and “Fuller House” — and inventive new programming that hits social cues and entertains across demographics. They’ve even found a way to deliver a fresh take on the superhero genre, which is dominating the box office and might suffer from viewer fatigue if Netflix had done it any other way.
Falling short at the box office
If Netflix does have a weakness, compared to the competition, it’s with newer-release movies. Amazon Prime, HBO and Apple iTunes all tend to get movies faster than Netflix does. And, while the streaming service does have a great contract with Disney to show its popular feature films, Disney does have plans to launch its own streaming services, so the longevity of that deal is in question.
Fortunately, Netflix chose to connect with its customers and carve out a niche that doesn’t need to depend on other creators’ content in order to thrive. And that has Netflix uniquely positioned for the imminent tipping point in viewership, when more people are streaming than watching cable. That day isn’t here yet, but it’s coming, and it’s coming faster and faster, thanks to the myriad options viewers now have.
There’s substantial competition out there from Amazon Prime, Apple and others like Hulu and the Disney cache of ESPN and Disney property channels. In the next few years, the streaming market will see some shifts and changes, some of them fairly tectonic, but as long as Netflix keeps pumping out great original content, it will have the inside track on staying in the lead.