This week The New York Times has published an article called “Netflix Has A Talk Show” problem. I believe it’s not as much as a problem but simply data for Netflix that people do not want to watch talk shows on demand – talk shows that cannot change topics in real-time as global events unfold. Content today is a cultural zeitgeist that unfolds in real-time, and people want to watch shows as they happen so they can participate in the global water cooler conversation. I have written about The Netflix Effect where a new series catapults a cast of talent overnight to super-stardom. 80 million people watched the Netflix movie Bird Box in its first four weeks. I am now watching Game Of Thrones, years late. and I just finished the Red Wedding episode. I was horrified and apparently I extremely late to the party because I remember when this episode was trending on Twitter years ago.
Let’s look at how television is changing today and what we can expect in the future as change continues to unfold. Television has long been a staple of entertainment, but as more people cut the cord and move to a digital viewing experience, how and when people watch TV, plus the actual content itself, has changed drastically. Instead of gathering the entire family around the TV to watch a show, today’s consumers can watch whatever they want, whenever they want. But even those capabilities could change with the future of television.
Four years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the future of TV is apps. However, the years following showed little growth in TV apps and staggering growth in streaming services. It’s safe to say that the future of TV isn’t apps, but streaming.
Revolutionizing How We Consume Content
Streaming services have revolutionized how we watch TV and consume content. Netflix alone has more than 139 million subscribers. Much of the success of streaming is due to the convenience and pricing. When compared to the price of cable, customers can get instant access to shows and movies at a fraction of the price. AI and machine learning help streaming services recommend shows that customers actually want to watch. 80% of what Netflix customers watch comes from their personalized recommendations.
On-demand viewing also makes niche content more accessible and provides something for everyone. Instead of waiting a week between episodes and sitting through commercials, we now watch shows more like how we read books: by bingeing them and enjoying delicious, uninterrupted experiences.
Streaming Wars And Original Content
I found this article by Alex Cranz of Gizmodo on the danger in one company controlling the production and distribution of content extremely dangerous.With a growing number of streaming services, customers often have to subscribe to many different companies to have access to all of the top shows. NBC recently announced that it will pull streaming favorite “The Office” from Netflix when it launches the NBCUniversal streaming service in 2021. Streaming wars are heightened as studios and streaming services fight to get the best content.
To avoid having to battle for the rights to popular shows, many streaming services are now creating their own content and have turned into full-fledged production studios. This allows them to hedge against other studios jacking up prices or withholding content altogether. Last year, 85% of Netflix’s new spending went towards original programming. It will spend an estimated $15 billion on original shows in 2019. Original programming has entered a world of niche content and increased representation of often overlooked people and stories.
Competing On Customer Experience
Streaming services face increased competition not just amongst themselves, but from other entertainment aside from TV. The fight for customers includes movie theaters, video games and even restaurants and bars.
In a recent Netflix quarterly earnings report, the company and CEO Reed Hastings pointed out that even with growing and diverse competition, the focus is always on customer experience: “There are thousands of competitors in this highly-fragmented market vying to entertain consumers and low barriers to entry for those with great experiences. Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers can choose. Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon or others, but on how we can improve our experience for our members.”
Netflix has long paved the way with incredible customer experience, niche content, personalization, convenience and data strategy. Other streaming services are following in its footsteps to create a strong customer experience.
More Data In The Future
Data is so valuable that Netflix – billions of dollars in debt – is the 38th most valuable brand. You do not have to be profitable anymore to be worth something. Netflix was recently ranked as the number one fastest growing U.S. brand. They have tons and tons of data and this is the future of content.
So, what does the future of television hold? We’ll see current trends continue to expand. In the next five to ten years, even more content will be created by looking at data. Highly personalized, niche content will be delivered straight to the people who really want to watch it. Netflix is already experimenting with interactive content that allows viewers to choose their own adventures. The pillars of today’s streaming services—original content, personalized recommendations and data-driven algorithms—will only grow in coming years.
The future of television is changing quickly and shows how customers crave personalized, convenient content. As data capabilities increase and more streaming services are created, the future of television will be customer-driven and vastly different from the past.
My closing thoughts are streaming giants are not just competing with one another, they are competing with any entertainment experience that draws their viewers away from their services, for example experience companies like Topgolf, or even Airbnb experiences that get people out of their house and doing things away from a screen. We are now in the experience economy, and while the future of TV is exciting, perhaps the future of experiences and interactive content could be even more so.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of two books including The Customer Of The Future. You can stay in touch with her here on her newsletter.