Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

When you’re producing a product everyone loves, it makes sense to add another product to your line, especially in the entertainment business. If that one hits, you produce more, and so on. Eventually, however, you’ll reach a tipping point where you’re not only competing with other producers and networks, you’re actually competing with yourself, making your customer pool so shallow that not enough people are tuning in or staying long enough.

Netflix is surging, raking in the cash and stacking up subscriptions like never before. The streaming media company is also seeing critical acclaim for its original programming, even Oscar nominations, and is producing hit after hit … even if people are panning some of their misses. Overall, public perception is pretty good.

Netflix faced its most recent PR trouble last year after Kevin Spacey was outed in the early days of the #MeToo movement. At the time, Spacey was the star of one of Netflix’s top shows, “House of Cards,” and the blowback against him forced Netflix to figure out a solution that would, hopefully, appease fans but also cut ties with Spacey.

A few years ago, Netflix dealt with its worst public relations scandal to date, a pricing debacle which customers eventually forced them to recant. The chastised company fixed the price and has settled for a more consumer-friendly gradual increase in price as they added more content.

But it’s not PR trouble that has Netflix on the hot seat. It’s success. So far, Netflix has been the relatively unchallenged king of streaming media. Sure, Amazon and Hulu are strong contenders, but, for the most part, customers who had one of those services also had Netflix. It was a both-and, rather than either-or situation

Then, as Netflix saw more and more success with its own programming, the company began to see competition within itself. Subscribers were spoiled with content, so people became less loyal to this program or that, and beginning to channel surf just like they did with cable.

For a while, though, that was no big deal, as customers were still on Netflix, so what did it matter if they were watching “The Defenders”, “Jessica Jones” or “Orange is the New Black?”

That comfortable cushion is growing thinner. Disney will be launching its own streaming channels, as will ESPN, and there’s a question as to what Disney will want done with its Marvel properties, which have been a big hit and a major cash cow for Netflix.

Netflix is going to have to work harder to keep “eyes on” content. With more players in the game, its approach will definitely have to change.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of NYC based 5WPR.