Journal Post #2

August 27, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Building on my previous post on broadcast and post broadcast, I would like to further explore on the concept of Web Television in the post broadcast shift.

Netflix. Americans love it. Those of us in Australia have no idea what it’s like to stream HD shows (blame both availability of Netflix, and our shitty internet).

On a recent count, Netflix has announced that their online streaming services have accumulated a total of 44 million subscribers up to date. This high number of subscription owes a lot to the way Netflix runs. Netflix is fundamentally a platform where subscribers get access to a wide catalogue of movies/shows and allows them to stream them in high definition, unlimited, for only 8.99$ per month.

HD shows/movies, huge catalogue, accessible via streaming from the comforts of our homes, low price. What’s tmhere not to love about Netflix, right? Except that it’s killing television, nothing much.

Recently, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings updated his long-term vision for the future of TV and it seems that Netflix is set to radically upend the television industry. Hastings remarked about how linear TV is popular, but is ripe for replacement and that Internet TV is becoming more and more popular. Even the world’s leading TV networks like HBO, ESPN, and BBS are moving on to internet TV.

While 44 million is still a considerably small number considering the population of the US, Hastings insisted that internet TV will soon grow to replace linear TV. This is because:

1. The Internet is getting faster, more reliable and more available;
2. Smart TV sales are increasing and eventually every TV will have WiFi and apps;
3. Smart TV adapters are getting better and cheaper;
4. Tablet and smartphone viewing is increasing;
5.Internet TV apps will get frequent updates;
6. Streaming is the leading source for 4k Ultra-HD video ;
7. TV Everywhere provides an economic transition for existing networks; and
8. New entrants like Netflix are innovating rapidly and driving improvements.

Other than that, the fact that Netflix is an INTERNET platform gives them even more of an advantage over linear TV. According to this article by Andrew Leonard, because this is an internet platform Netflix is able to exploit data to track user behaviour. This means that whatever we do on Netflix, be it pausing and changing shows halfway, Netflix is able to record this behaviour and use it to cater their services better to the general target audience. Leonard said that “the companies that figure out how to generate intelligence from that data will know more about us than we know ourselves, and will be able to craft techniques that push us toward where they want us to go, rather than where we would go by ourselves if left to our own devices. I’m guessing this will be good for Netflix’s bottom line, but at what point do we go from being happy subscribers, to mindless puppets?”

I’m willing to bet that Netflix is not the only one manipulating user behaviour data to control how we consume their products, and if linear TV networks are slowly moving on towards internet TV, what’s to stop other TV networks from doing the same? How long before all of us become “lab mice” consumers for these companies to study and experiment on?

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