Huge changes at Netflix will help it compete with rivals like Disney Plus

In the near future, if you haven’t already noticed, new Netflix releases are going to start looking very different from what many streamer subscribers are used to. And it’s for a reason that few saw it coming.

The world’s biggest streamer – one who built his brand on the value proposition of binge-it-all-at-once convenience and a staggering sheer volume of content – ​​is now arguably the Icarus among the best streaming services. Like the character from Greek mythology, Netflix has defied the odds and flown close to the sun for years – largely without consequence. So far, that is, its wings had melted and brought the company down to earth a bit, in the form of subscriber number craters.

Netflix’s response to this new reality, as you probably know by now, has already begun to take shape. The introduction of advertisements. A crackdown on password sharing. Lots of rollbacks on previous content approvals. A less expansive list of movie releases. This is all another way of saying: The change in Netflix’s release strategy going forward that we mentioned above? In short, the iconoclastic entertainment giant that was meant to change Hollywood found itself changed, in turn, by some of the same forces it had hoped to overthrow.

New Netflix releases will be very different

Time was, you might think of Netflix a bit like the Amazon of streamers. While the latter became known as The Everything Store, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings spoke openly for years about internet options (like his streamer) one day replacing linear TV. And Netflix certainly gave the impression that things were headed inexorably in that direction. Dozens and dozens of new TV shows and movies are released every month, like clockwork. Prestige dramas like The crown to silly reality TV shows like Is it cake?

A scene from the new Netflix game show “Is it Cake?” Image source: Netflix

In 2019, I interviewed Sergio Pablos, the creator of Despicable Me about his brand new movie Klaus — at the time, Netflix’s first-ever original animated feature. It’s a beautiful, well-made animated film, and it wasn’t hard to think of – well, okay, it looks like Netflix is ​​coming after Disney too.

Again, the same month I spoke to Sergio, November 2019? Disney has released its Netflix rival, Disney Plus. Which, as we all know now, quickly established itself as one of the first real rivals to Netflix’s supremacy. Over the past few weeks, Netflix has decimated the ranks of its animation department. Presumably, because he eventually came to the conclusion that Disney has home-court advantage there. And that Netflix has too many other battles to fight right now.

For now, the name of the game for Netflix seems to imply being a little more selective in the future. Not flooding the area so much anymore, but posting really memorable content – like, since we’re talking about animation, titles like last year’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines (a truly stellar 10/10 release, if you ask me, animated or otherwise).

What does Netflix mean?

Think of it this way. There’s a reason why the menu at premium restaurants is quite small. And one reason you get a book-length menu at a place like The Cheesecake Factory.

The less you focus on things, the more you can polish them to perfection.

That’s why many Hollywood insiders weren’t at all shocked to see Apple TV Plus race past Netflix this year to become the first streamer to win a Best Picture Oscar. It might seem a little disingenuous to launch splattering ‘For Your Consideration’ Oscar campaigns aimed at tastemakers, with the intent of portraying yourself as the home for Oscar contenders… when your daily Top 10 lists have been loaded with guts like silly reality shows.

two blond women pose for a photo
(Left to right) Paris Hilton and Lele Pons in Netflix’s “Cooking with Paris.” Image source: KIT KARZEN/NETFLIX

No one goes to McDonald’s expecting top notch sushi. It seems Netflix has realized that planting its feet in two worlds, in an attempt to achieve both quantity and quality, is probably a wild ride.

Fewer movies (but bigger)

“Just a few years ago, we were struggling to monetize the small art film market,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said during the company’s April earnings call. “Today we release some of the most popular and watched films in the world. Over the past few months, things like Don’t look up and red notice and Project Adamas examples of this.

It’s perhaps telling that “popular” and “most-watched” were the descriptors Sarandos chose to use. red notice could indeed have been both of these things. But serious artistic merit was certainly nowhere to be found.

Going forward, Netflix has hinted that a leaner, bigger, and more focused movie release strategy will be one of the ways the company tries to correct some of its imbalances. This means upcoming releases like, for example, The gray man. A spy thriller debuting in July that will be Netflix’s most expensive film of all time. It’s a Russo Brothers production, starring Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas.

Other big feature film releases coming later this year to Netflix include the highly anticipated Knives out after.

This all reminds me of something Hastings said to me a few years ago when I interviewed him. The hardest part of business, he told me, is figuring out in advance what moves to make and where your business chess game might go. Make the wrong move, he continued, and you can get checkmate. The key to being a great gamer, as he explained, is to continually “prune the tree of possibilities”.

I never forgot that image he put in my head. So, in a nutshell, that’s really what’s going on at Netflix right now. For cynics and Netflix bears alike, the business is in turmoil. In reality, Netflix management is “trimming the tree” on an ongoing basis. Take a little here, a little there, refine and iterate as you go.

More Netflix coverage: For more Netflix info, check out the latest new Netflix movies and series to watch.

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