Earlier today, in my post on the 6 films from Spike Lee’s list of 86 essentials that are currently streaming on Netflix, I mentioned that the ridiculously low number of titles available for streaming, spoke to ongoing complaints voiced by many Netflix users, frustrated with the service’s lack of “in-demand” titles.
I’m sure, like me, many of you who use the service, have found yourselves often exasperated while searching for films you really want to watch (whether old or recent), only to find out that they aren’t available to stream on Netflix. And so you go elsewhere, like Amazon, or look for the film on DVD instead, assuming your Netflix account allows for DVD rentals as well.
Netflix did address this matter recently, as you can see in the video below, which I stumbled upon while researching the issue of rights to content. Essentially, Netflix re-emphasizes the fact that it’s more of a channel than a library of every film that’s ever been made. And, really, it comes down to money and rights to content. In short, it’s currently cheaper and easier to buy DVD rights, than it is to buy the rights to stream every movie and television show we all would love to see offered by the service.
As the host of the video states, that’s, in part, how they’re able to keep the cost of the service so low at $7.99 a month. Although, I really don’t see how they can thrive without eventually raising prices. I think it’s inevitable, especially as costs to produce and acquire content becomes even more competitive, but for the buyers bidding on rights to the films and TV shows audiences crave.
So Netflix wants you to think of it as more of a curator of content, or a TV network like HBO or Showtime, with a limited library of films that’s rotated periodically, and some original series of its own. Doing so, I think, will make it easier to wrap your mind around how the company operates – assuming you’re one of the frustrated.
What I found most interesting is that Netflix doesn’t outright own the original series it’s been releasing this year – from House Of Cards, to Orange Is The New Black, most recently. It’s merely licensing them, meaning, eventually, they’ll be available on other platforms. I’ll have to ponder how that affects the company’s long-term growth prospects, if they can’t continuously capitalize on these series for years to come, and on other formats, as they become ubiquitous.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Netflix explaining its programming strategy to you, the consumer: