Nov 18, 2023·edited Nov 18, 2023

Two somewhat interrelated developments also contributed to what you are reporting

1. Netflix-as-Must-Have:

No one expected Netflix's streaming business to take off as quickly as it did, including Netflix. In retrospect it makes sense-- slow download speeds were preferable to frequently scratched and unwatchable DVDs, especially when that scratch announced itself an hour into a movie.

Stufios realized that streaming Netflix was going to cut deeply into DVD sales and so they put the screws on Starz, who supplied Netflix with most of its first-run movies for streaming and soon Netflix had no more first-run movies to stream.

Fortunately, Netflix had the bright idea to hit up the networks and studios for TV series that had not yet reached the 100-episode mark where they'd be eligible for syndication, but were already in Sesaon 3 or Season 4. That meant all those episodes were sitting on the shelf collecting and unmonetizable. Netflix offered them big bucks for the shows, which was sort of found money for the studios, and suddenly the conduit opened up and everyone was sellling their library TV shows to Netflix. *That* was when they became indispensible and a part of everyone's must-have list--when they had a major collection of TV series. The "proof" of how well this worked was AMC and "Breaking Bad" and "Walking Dead" - it is generally achknowledged that sellling older seasons of those shows to Netflix helped them find an audience, who then returned to AMC to watch new episodes. That was what really got everyone to sell to Netflix back in the day--the desire to be the next "Walking Dead."

2. Netflix's Troubles

You remember that scene from "South Park" where the Netflix executive is greenlighting every show anyone calls in? Once the networks and studios started launching their own SVOD services, they also started pulling back all their library content from Netflix. So Netflix went on a producing spree and also changed programming chiels to try and go more mass market. This hurt their reputation. People were used to Netflix standing for HBO-like shows like "Orange Is The New Black" and "Stranger Things", not remakes of "Full House" or the Marie Kondo show. (And those were actually two of the better ones.) So the buzz started to form that Netflix's quality had really gone down. At the same time, the other SVOD services (HBO in particular) managed to log some of those HBO-like hits. So suddenly Netflix looked a lot less necessary and a lot more like everyone else, and given they were one of the more expensive services, that did not help their cause either.

(Also, glad you called out Dawn and Dade's book. Granted they are friends so I am likely biased, but I thought the book was excellent and very well written, a really well-done snapshot of the era.)

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I canceled Netflix back when it lost The Office to Peacock and I haven’t missed it since then. It had already been going downhill for a while at that point as it lost a lot of that licensed content.

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Because Netflix had a fairly wide open field and had a big checkbook, it could take chances. In its endless appetite for more content, it look to foreign films and shows, many of which were much better than the average here, often the top shows from the countries producing them.

But, the insatiable demands for growth, let alone maintaining their market leadership, had the effect it always has -- diluting strength with spinoffs, copy-cats and one retread too many. We saw this with HBO; does anyone think that it would greenlight a quirky show like “John from Cincinnati” today?

Now, all of the streaming services are trying to compete from a defensive crouch, their lineups less and less differentiated. The whole streaming market is regressing to the audience taste mean, instead of something for everyone, its more like one thing for everyone. As production costs (not to mention debt service) mount and competition increases, the streaming services will continue to flounder through rounds of failure, divestment, consolidation and reinvention trying to recapture that magic of the early HBO and Netflix.

Netflix’s first mover advantage was always at risk, because there were no insurmountable barriers to entry; deep pocketed players, such as Apple and Amazon could throw vast amounts of money at establishing a market position, while other players, including the major networks, independent content, creators, such as Disney and Paramount, as well as delivery systems, such as major cellular and cable networks, have become too nervous to not jump in the game as well. As far as I can, tell, an extraordinary amount of money, attention and analysis is being applied to figuring out how to succeed in the long term, but no one has any idea what the long term is going to look like. my guess is that if Netflix wants to retain its first mover advantage, it should continue to pursue high quality content, whether in English or other languages, and avoid the trap of trying to look like everyone else. In five years or so, when the dust has settled Netflix good night only retain its position, but have exceptional assets, including a large library, a more distinct market identity and the reputation of backing content creators.

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Netflix is good at TYJIT: "Tantalizing You Just in Time."

Netflix offers shows (either a movie or a series) worth watching just in time to prevent me from cancelling my subscription. If they keep raising the price, though, my Just-I-Time interval will get shorter. (Currently paying $ 19.99 plus $1.10 tax. Who get's that tax, by the way? Do I pay tax when I buy a ticket at a movie theater??).

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Directv is raising the price again, so I tried Hulu with live tv. Quit it after 3 miserable days. Directv is so expensive because it’s worth it. Streaming bites.

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I’m in Australia and just cancelled my Netflix. Unlike the US we haven’t got our post covid inflation under control and with mortgage interest rates going up again last month combined with a rise in Netflix to $30.99 a month (when we signed up it was $16) I feel it’s not value for money anymore.

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