Saturday, October 12, 2013

I was wrong on Netflix

I was wrong on Netflix. A few years ago, I saw their pricing changes (which overpriced DVD rentals) and streaming catalog changes (switching to only buying whatever they could get cheap, very few hit movies in there, and then making a little of their own content) and thought this new strategy of becoming HBO-lite was headed for disaster.

But Netflix has done well. People add them on as an addition to cable and DVDs, not as a replacement, essentially as an HBO-lite. Competitors -- like Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube -- aren't acting as a replacement to Netflix, but, at best, an addition. Redbox is eating away at Netflix's neglected but profitable DVD business, but that hasn't hurt Netflix as much as I thought it would. And no one -- not even Apple, Amazon, Sony, Hulu, Walmart/Vudu, or Google/YouTube -- has been able to offer a full cable TV replacement, a streaming service with a massive, nearly exhaustive catalog of high quality content.

I was wrong about Netflix's new strategy. They've done pretty well with their HBO-lite strategy of being one of several (and the most popular) streaming service for TV-like entertainment. There is still the question of what happens when someone launches something with a much better UX and catalog than Netflix, but that may never happen.