Commentary

Is Netflix Real Or A Joke?

A new outdoor billboard campaign in major markets -- including Los Angeles and New York -- offers a simple message on a white background: Netflix is a Joke.

While Netflix hasn’t copped to the self-deriding ad stunt, we know the SVOD company has been pursuing big-time comedy -- including a major deal with Jerry Seinfeld. It has also made comedy content pacts with Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer.

Given its growing stature in the TV-entertainment business, it would seem a sly and hip ad campaign -- especially in major markets. That can be taken as an act of self-deprecating humor, something comedians typically rely on when it comes to their stand-up acts.

Netflix isn’t only aggressive in comedy, but other entertainment areas -- dramas, reality, and even talk shows, like  “Chelsea” from Chelsea Handler, Netflix’s first talk show.

Perhaps the “joke” reference refers to a somewhat earlier time, when top TV and movie executives believed that Netflix was indeed a “joke.”

No more.

The service continues to garner big awards and nominations, striking $10 million to $20 million deals to pursue top talent. Think about Shonda Rhimes' recent deal -- a reported $10 million a year, multiyear deal. The service essentially took her away from Disney-ABC Television.

One company that doesn’t think Netflix is a joke is T-Mobile U.S., the mobile communications company. For its new TV advertising campaign, it touts an extra eye-opening bonus for those who subscribe to T-Mobile One family plans: free Netflix. T-Mobile will cover Netflix’s standard $9.99 monthly subscription.

The marketing theme is: “T-Mobile + Netflix... on Us.”

“Netflix has totally disrupted entertainment, and T-Mobile has totally disrupted wireless,” explained John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile U.S., in a webcast.  

Legere adds that this is to inform its customers T-Mobile network can accommodate the huge video traffic that Netflix consumption demands. “We are giving unlimited network and 'binge-on' to our customers because our network can handle it.”

What’s next? Maybe more riffs on the entertainment genre from Netflix -- or other companies looking to align with it. Maybe  “Netflix Isn’t Reality,” “Netflix is a Drama Queen” or “Netflix: You’re Buying It.”

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