These days we are talking a lot about the landing in Italy of Netflix, a video library that collects thousands of hours of movies and TV series accessible via the Internet on any device. Netflix is one of the world’s leading players in binge-watching (the habit of watching many episodes of a TV series uninterruptedly), a revolution that, for some, could change the Italian television landscape.
And if Netflix is revolutionary in container format, it is more and more revolutionary in content as well. Born as a video-postal rental (the first customers received and returned films in VHS or DVD by mail), then evolved into a digital streaming platform, today it is more and more content and less and less container. Some of the most popular TV series in the world, from House of Cards to Orange is the new black, as well as more and more movies have been produced directly by Netflix, call them Netflix Original.
If Bill Gates wrote in 1996 that the Content is the King, twenty years later Jonathan Perelman completed the sentence by clarifying who, in his opinion, wore the trousers in the royal couple.
The Netflix team seems to have understood well the opportunities of the binomial content / container. The container not only conveys the content, but also informs and shapes it. Netflix, after all, today is a digital platform with all the tracks that allow you to know well and profile the user: what you look at, when and for how long and especially when you stop being passionate about a series is information that any screenwriter would like to have, incomparable in depth with those provided by Auditel or traditional tools. So Netflix, observing the behavior of consumers and learning to know their tastes, can create content that he knows they will like. And they are so precise to the point of shooting, when they produce a new TV series, directly the entire season and not just the episode pilot, as instead the television industry was used to doing to reduce costs, failure.
If Netflix’s business model, to date, is completely immune from advertising – it is sustained only by monthly subscription costs – generalist television and Italian pay TV have accustomed us to see it, even against a subscription fee.
All the profiling information that Netflix has and that is a godsend and a gold mine for scriptwriters, surely it could also be for advertisers. It is not difficult to imagine that one day not far away, Netflix, will be faced with three important choices: keep the current model without advertising as a differentiating factor, add advertising thus increasing its revenues or, probably the most likely, open to a free version, where the cost is borne by the advertising becoming, for millions of users, the Spotify of the TV.