Is Netflix Becoming a Television Station?

More

The Wall Street Journal says that Netflix is in talks to distribute an original television series starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher.  The company seems to hope that it can follow the path blazed by HBO and AMC, becoming a destination for original shows as well as other peoples' content.


This is a major strategic shift for the company, which right now is a high-volume purveyor of relatively cheap content.  Diversifying this way could represent the next evolution in digital entertainment, but it's also risky.  (A&E was producing some great original content in the 1990s, but eventually abandoned the strategy and retreated to its core business of rebroadcasting Law and Order reruns.)  The competency required to be a DVD distributor don't really overlap that much with the competencies required to identify and support successful television programming.

Moreover, how much does this really get Netflix?  They already have a huge subscriber base--how many people will add on a subscription in order to watch a single original show?  Moreover, airing original content puts Netflix directly into competition with the people it buys content from.  I doubt that a single show is going to have much effect, but if Netflix moves more firmly into the content space, other providers are going to be watching with a gimlet eye.

On the other hand, Netflix has proven itself an extraordinarily nimble and visionary company, repeatedly moving to cannibalize its own sales before competitors do it for them.  If this succeeds, the company will be even more firmly established as the king of digital content.  And at that point, competitors may have to deal with them, whether they like it or not.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In