I'm not going to lie to you here. I started writing this column with the goal of producing a piece on the "five video marketing trends to look for in 2016." But honestly? You can Google a phrase like that and find several well-written, useful results. I don't see any reason to add to the pile when there are other pieces of interesting news to talk about.
So instead, this month's column will be all about Netflix, specifically about how the streaming service's #NetflixEverywhere global expansion is, in my opinion, the best thing to happen to entertainment fans in the last several years. That's right--this month's column is going to read a lot like a love letter to Netflix.
My history with Netflix started when I was still in high school and my mom subscribed to Netflix DVDs, before the brand launched its now-famous and dominant streaming option. After college, my husband and I decided to share a streaming Netflix account with another married couple we knew. Netflix's digital streaming service forever changed the way I thought about how I, as an entertainment fan, can control my own movie and television experiences.
For example, instead of going out on the town, my husband and I choose to watch documentaries and original Netflix series (oh, heavens, how amazing are Peaky Blinders and Daredevil?) for our date nights. We even opted to watch Netflix instead of seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening weekend despite being life-long geeks. We simply didn't want to deal with the mad crowds we knew we'd run into in our Phoenix suburb when we could just stay home, cozy up on the couch, and Netflix and chill (yes, I went there).
Now, as I reconnect with my sister over several glasses of wine as we binge-watch Supernatural on Netflix each week, I can't help but smile. Entertainment fans around the world are about to have access to the same experience I do. Netflix knows its subscribers view the service as an experience instead of simply a subscription company or a digital media brand. Seriously, why else would Netflix make these socks?
And that's why having #NetflixEverywhere around the world is a wonderful thing. The SVOD can actually bring that entertainment experience to more people who are eager to sit down to a movie or full TV season of their choice in their own home. Sure, not all of the 130 new countries Netflix has launched in will boast people eager to subscribe to Netflix-and the service may need to eventually shut down in select regions depending on reception. But consider the alternative which has plagued the entertainment industry for far too long.
Without Netflix, entertainment fans around the world are still essentially at the mercy of Hollywood, local or regional entertainment brands, and even their governments. For example, let's assume a movie fan in Qatar wants to see The Danish Girl. That citizen is as of this moment out of luck, since online protesters convinced the government to pull the film about a transgender character out of local cinemas. Now let's assume Netflix were to add The Danish Girl to its streaming library in the next few months; that fan in Qatar could subscribe to Netflix and watch the movie, essentially negating the local government's decision.
Sound ridiculous, possibly even controversial? Those adjectives are nothing new to Netflix, which has dared to push the limits of entertainment for years now. Sure, the hypothetical situation of The Danish Girl can seem easy to dismiss as pure speculation, and lots of factors could affect whether or not the film would actually reach subscribers in Qatar (like licensing, possible censorship, etc.). But is it really so hard to picture a world where entertainment fans are in control of their own experiences, regardless of potentially-divisive characteristics like race, gender, location, and beliefs?
#NetflixEverywhere is incredible because it puts the power of what to watch and when to watch it into the hands of subscribers. And now those subscribers aren't just restricted to a few territories; they're around the world. It might take Netflix a while to grow its subscriber bases to the millions it boasts in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Nonetheless, traditional entertainment brands, plus any other entities who believe they can make entertainment decisions for citizens, should prepare themselves for some major changes in the global media landscape.