When Netflix was founded in 1997, its business model was initially built around the sale and rental of DVDs through the mail. Within just a few years, the company had changed directions, investing its attention and resources into on-demand video streaming.
Netflix began producing original content in 2013, starting with “House of Cards”. Since that time, Netflix has greatly expanded its original content offerings, adding 126 original series and films last year—more than any other network or cable channel.
In order to accomplish that feat, Netflix had to invest $5 billion for original content in 2016—more than Time Warner, Fox, Viacom, Disney and Discovery. But the investment proved worthwhile, as 21 out of 25 of the highest rated original streaming shows came from Netflix.
But leaders at Netflix cannot breathe easily just yet. Hulu and Amazon both claimed two spots on the list as well—and are following in Netflix’ footsteps.
The pivot made by Netflix into original content—and the subsequent decision of its competitors to follow suit—is demonstrable of a greater trend that can be seen across all industries. Consumers want access to archives of on-demand original content, and will spend their money with businesses that satiate that need.
But what can content marketers learn from the arms race that is now unfolding between streaming services?
Consumers don’t want to be teased: Unlike cable outlets and most other streaming services, Netflix doesn’t release shows one episode at a time. Instead, it puts out entire seasons at once. This allows audiences to consume content at their own pace. Content marketers must be prepared to generate large volumes of content in order to give their audience the greatest degree of freedom to consume information.
Invest in video: After a successful 2016, Netflix is closing in on 100 million subscribers. While your business might not be selling the same product, the odds are good that many of your customers are advocates for video streaming services. You can increase engagement and satisfaction with your own brand by marketing your company in a medium that feels familiar to your audience.
Quality is worth its weight in gold: It is no mistake that Kevin Spacey was cast in the starring role in Netflix’ first original series, “House of Cards”. The quality of his acting, and his name recognition, helped give Netflix the credibility it needed during its formative year as a content producer. Since that time, many other big names have flocked to streaming services. The bottom line? It might require more resources for you to develop a winning content strategy, but quality cannot be sacrificed.
Content creation is the new content curation: At one point, it was perfectly acceptable to aggregate industry news and retread old stories from other sources. But if you look at why streaming service Hulu is struggling, you’ll see that many of the networks it had partnered with are now developing their own apps to stream their shows, leaving Hulu in the dust. If you want to remain relevant, you must be original and create your own work.
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