As much as Netflix seems like a juggernaut now both in popular culture and in the business world, will it soon face the same fate as traditional TV?
As everyone knows by now, traditional TV is in decline. There are several reasons for this. One being the linear scheduling model that has been the cornerstone of television programming for decades. Many people blame this alone for the reason that TV has declined as younger viewers simply want to watch whatever they want whenever they want.
But I think the larger reason is also that people’s tastes have changed when it comes to content. The more and more I talk to and read comments I notice most people spend most their time watching their favorite Youtube people, podcasts, Twitch streamers, and other similar content. Scripted content is becoming harder and harder to produce at the quality and novelty to attract people. Of course, there will always be a few scripted shows at any time that capture a wide audience, but not nearly enough to fill up several networks all day long along.
And this is the reason I feel Netflix, although touted as the future of television, may just be short term fix in the decline of traditional scripted shows. And eventually Netflix will be a victim to the same changing tastes that allowed its streaming service to take off. And that taste change is people want very niche content. Podcasts, streaming gamers, citizen journalists, etc. This is the type of content people are wanting more and more. But this niche content is too small for a large company to produce profitably. This is why Netflix or Amazon won’t be able to transition to this new type of programming.
Some gamers who livestream are making $500K a month. That’s a lot of money, but they also have no interest in moving to a company like Netflix. Netflix probably can’t monetize the content, and the creator now has to follow the rules of board members and investors. It makes no sense for these people to come on board.
You can see this already taking place. Netflix has tried to pick up Youtube stars. Recently they bought Jerry Seinfeld’s Youtube series. They also just picked up Norm MacDonald’s podcast. But both of these were available for free before Netflix bought them. So Netflix is fighting an uphill battle, trying to stay relevant in the podcast era by buying content, then removing it from where it use to be free. That’s not going to last.
So it’s very possible that Netflix may fall victim to the same changing tastes that they benefited from to grow their company. The only thing is, as with everything, tastes and consumer habits are changing faster than at any time in history. The darling of the business world this year could very well be the dinosaur by next year.