Netflix is Revolutionising Television
Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix predicted how cable networks would adapt with the internet age. He says that the cable networks would do the same thing that broadcast networks did when cable first came along.
Hastings talked at a private conference that was organized by Google. The conference was held in Arizona. A video of the question and answer session is now available online.
The statement that Hastings made in regards with cable companies becoming networks is very interesting. His own company, Netflix has tried to describe itself as an “internet TV app” and only recently did it switch to identifying itself as a network.
Hastings also took the conference as an opportunity of describing his company’s practice of releasing its shows all at once as opposed to releasing it weekly as the traditional practice. Many say that the practice is potentially hurting his company’s chance of getting viewers.
Hastings disagrees with the view that Netflix’s practice of releasing all episodes at the same time is unsound. He agrees that while viewers might occasionally binge and watch more than one episode at a time, that’s not how it’s usually done. He compares it to reading a novel, where a reader would read one chapter and then stop.
Hastings further elaborates on his argument and says that novels used to be published in serialized form. The novels where published in magazines in the same way that TV shows are shown one episode each week. The coming of the steam-powered printing press changed all that. It became possible for novels to be printed as books and be sold cheaply and the practice of serializing novels died down.
Here is a passage from the interview:
“Two hundred years ago, a lot of fiction was written for magazines. It was a serialized format for novels. And then book manufacturing got cheap enough where you could make a book and sell it at a reasonable cost. And then people got control of all 13 chapters; they could read on their own schedule, and that greatly out competed the serialized release model of the then-historic magazines.
“And I think we’ll see the same thing, which is: More and more, consumers want control. They want freedom. Occasionally they binge, and that makes a great story, but most of the time it’s just a single episode like you read the chapter of a book.
“And we’ll see chapters that are variable length. Like TV shows, instead of having 22 minutes for every episode, you can go with 30 minutes and 16, depending on the natural rhythms of the story.
“So I’m sure that will take off, and the major networks— Look, the broadcast networks adapted to the expansion of cable networks very well. And that’s what we’ll see with cable networks: They’ll all become internet networks. They’ll do a lot of these release patterns. Because it’s what consumers want. They want control, and they want to be able to watch things— They can watch more that way because they can watch on their own schedule.”