Is Netflix Facing A Quality Issue?

Take another look at premium "quality" TV content. Now, define quality." Then define "content."

Much has been made about the timing of content regarding Netflix's drop in second-quarter subscriber count in the U.S.  — especially where its new third season of “Stranger Things” is concerned. “Things” released on July 4 (the start of the third quarter), weeks after HBO’s “Game of Thrones” aired its last episodes. (second quarter).

But maybe, just maybe, there is something else to consider — an overall quality issue at Netflix.

Trouble is, how do you measure this? Netflix isn’t like CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox. Many might look at traditional TV’s current schedule -- especially prime time -- to gauge some value. But with Netflix, everything is on-demand, full seasons available immediately.

Can you measure Netflix’s quality versus CBS in terms of pure TV content, especially now that CBS is in the midst of a carriage issue with AT&T’s big DirecTV pay TV service?



Some analysts believe overall content on Netflix will continue to be average at best. Can the subscription video-on-demand platform truly find more hits than any other network — ABC (broadcast, ad-supported), HBO (cable, no advertising), or AMC (cable, ad supported)?

Most of this focus is about Netflix’s big viewing original programming -- like “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black” and the older “House of Cards.”

At the same time, Netflix continues to seek major TV and movie award hardware (in part like HBO), when it comes to Emmys, Oscars, whatever. This is its effort to define “quality.”

This might not mean much for TV advertisers, especially the Netflix reference. But one might wonder what marketers’ bigger concern is around brand safety.

Brand safety has never really be equated with quality, though some may believe so.

Advertisers are largely comfortable; media schedules are safe on the big broadcast and cable TV networks. Would that remain if advertising were allowed on HBO? Imagine a media schedule next to an original, unfiltered, uncut episode of “Thrones” or “The Sopranos.”

Now think about the video content on YouTube and Facebook. Brand safety takes on a new association -- and not a good one for many.

We are in, what has been called, the age of peak TV. But is it really just peek?

1 comment about "Is Netflix Facing A Quality Issue?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 23, 2019 at 1:54 p.m.

    Wayne, I think that Netflix is facing both a quality and quantity problem---the two are linked. While everyone goes GaGa over the claim that Netflix will spend $10 billion this year---or next?--on original content, much of it will be in foreign language product designed to woo overseas subscribers. As for the U.S., making original content is always a gamble. At best, you get something worthwhile about 25% of the time while 50% or more of the shows are bombs---if you are in doubt, just check the trackrecord of the broadcast TV networks in primetime over the years. In contrast, almost all of the off-network reruns that account for the lion's share of all Netflix viewing activity---and are about to be lost by Netflix----were fairly recent hits in "linear TV". This means that they have already developed a large fan base while they are not so dated that they wouldn't appeal to younger viewers who missed them the first time around. That's what happens when the same shows play in the syndication market on independent stations and basic cable channels. So, yes, Netflix faces a quality problem and, as I said, it's also a quantity problem.

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