I do love me a good media brawl, and thanks to CBS I’ve got one.
Essentially what happened is that CBS, home to your favorite laugh tracks like “2 Broke Girls” and “The Big Bang Theory,” was one of the many companies in attendance at the UBS Global Media Conference last month. And one CBS exec named David Poltrack took a swing at Netflix, saying that while the streaming/DVD service was becoming a player, it was far from the champion at picking winners.
However, he said, “it has been more than one year since Netflix introduced a true new hit program.”…
Netflix’s “batting average is below that of the pay cable networks as well as the broadcast networks,” Poltrack said.
He added, “They do not appear to have found any magic formula for success in that game.”
Now sure, Poltrack has some points: not all of the shows have been winners, or even goldmines like OITNB or “House of Cards.” “Bojack Horseman,” despite its stellar cast and overall quality got off on the wrong hoof, and hasn’t garnered the same buzz other Netflix shows have.
But doesn’t it just seem petty to pick a fight with a network (for lack of a better term) that’s also hosting your own content? Poltrack goes on to acknowledge the “frenemy” nature of Netflix, but I think he would do well to remember that Netflix–competition or no–is doing plenty of things right.
For instance, they’re breaking down barriers. “Orange is the New Black” is the most diverse show out there, arguably, and has kicked in a lot of doors, including for Laverne Cox and a wider discussion of LGBTQ and racial issues. “House of Cards” received a whopping 13 primetime Emmy nods for its second season, and lead actress Robin Wright became the first to pick up a Golden Globe (or any major award for that matter) for an online-only television series. Meanwhile CBS is gaining notoriety amongst the online community for its nonstop attempts to pander to the lowest common denominator with its humor and politics.
For a streaming service who only recently crashed on the scene to be making such influential original content? I think Netflix is doing alright. Not to mention that Netflix has produced a number of miniseries, films, and comedy specials with high-profile comedians. And viewers are eating it up: Netflix originals accounted for 1.1 billion of the hours of programs watched on the site. To me, they’re only just getting started.
Because perhaps one of the most important fights Netflix is promoting is the use of windowing, which is when major studios release content in a specific way (Movies then at-home devices, USA then other countries, for example) in order to boost sales and revenue. It’s a holdover from when you couldn’t simply pirate or stream anything you wanted with the Internet, but it often leaves Netflix in a bind (and accounts for why U.S. Netflix is so much more flush than the 49 other libraries they have). When Netflix releases their content it’s everywhere, all the time. When CBS releases their content it’s…well, if I even want to watch it I’ll let you know.
The fact of the matter is, Netflix is more than the sum of its buzz–and not only because they provide consumers with content from all sorts of places. It might behoove CBS and its executives to remember that. And that Netflix has already seen to one titan’s fall.
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