Originally published: March 17, 2011
Last updated: March 17, 2011 - 3:25pm
The media world is going ga-ga over the prospect of Netflix possibly getting into the business of transmitting original high-end programming, raising the notion of the red-envelope company transforming itself into the HBO of the broadband video set. Yet for all the heated talk of a possible "Netflix original," this high-flying tech firm could still run into the same old problems that have snagged other purveyors of TV favorites for decades.
Quality and big names are no guarantee of a show's success, or of the success of a backer of that show, for that matter. You also have to take into account that Netflix would have to promote the program in an entirely different fashion than any TV network, a process that could work to the company's detriment. Sure, Netflix has more than 20 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada -- a nice number, but one that falls short of the weekly audience for a single episode of Fox's "American Idol" or even CBS's "NCIS." Now add this to the stew: Netflix's viewership watches different pieces of programing at different times. The bulk of the TV networks' audience watches the same show at the same time (to be sure, a good number are now watching shows on computer and DVR at different times as well). What we mean to show is Netflix's big challenge of having to promote a new, original series virtually one-on-one -- advertising the program to individual viewers, rather than an audience base tuning in en masse. That's not easy to do -- and seems even more daunting when you consider the fact that even shows that get promoted during a big-ticket sports broadcast sometimes fall flat on their face. After all, for all the promos that run on NBC's high-rated "Sunday Night Football" broadcasts, you'd think the network would have more hits on its air.
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