Thursday, October 22, 2015

Netflix Has A Problem

Yes, Netflix has a problem.

It is not acquiring viewers as quickly as it promised shareholders and seems to be suffering from increasing churn, or customers leaving.

The company puts this down to the introduction of chip and pin to the US where credit cards are not automatically renewing.

I think this is a bit of a red herring which hides Netflix' underlying problem.

Once you've watched the 70% of original content, the 30% of box sets and the 2% of movies that are any good on the service, there's nowhere to go.

With more and more viewers watching 'box sets' voraciously, you can work your way through an original series in a weekend, and beyond TV drama and movies, the content pickings are thin to say the least.

Netflix needs to up its acquisition strategy because the competition is coming to get it, with more and more SVOD services being launched every month. HBO Go, especially, contains a lot of must-see TV (or Sky Go/Now TV who have the rights in the UK).

To date, Netflix has played a clever game of balancing the acquisition of C and D level movies with good original programming that it can exploit over the long term. It's clever because it builds a balance sheet rather than creating a P&L black hole.

But Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards are, arguably,  not must see TV in the way Game Of Thrones, Mad Men or even NCIS are (Netflix themselves have admitted the popularity of awful The Blacklist and the naval cop series over their own programming).

Quite simply, Netflix has to find some big new original hits and needs to buy, buy, buy if it is to maintain its market position.