Is Netflix Critic-Proof?

Netflix might be critic-proof -- which is why consumers may stick to the dominant video service in the wake of four new powerful competitors coming online in the next 18 months.

Since it started producing movies a couple of years ago, Netflix has amassed a library of 189 films. But mostly pulling in ho-hum scores. For example, the average number for those films is around 58 out of 100, according to Metacritic, which compiles reviews from all reviewers and calculates a score.

One of Netflix’s most highly touted movies, “Bright,” starring Will Smith, which came out in December 2017, was the video platform’s first big budget movie. But it only scored a 27% score from RottenTomatoes. A more recent big budget movie, “Murder Mystery,” which debuted in June -- only earned a weak 45% number.

The irony here is that Netflix has put ample effort into producing high-quality movies to earn big awards -- especially the Academy Awards. Last year’s “Roma” was an Oscar-nominated movie for Best Picture. It didn’t win. But it was a critic’s favorite, a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes.



Perhaps we are looking at the wrong data.

Netflix claims -- for example -- that the beleaguered film “Bright” was responsible for pulling in 6.6 million new paid Netflix subscribers. That’s a real key metric, the monetization one.

We imagine this is a gross, not a net number -- which begs the question: How many of those paid Netflix subscribers departed the service after viewing this seemingly low-quality film?

Netflix has always said it doesn’t need Nielsen data when it comes to the traditional TV measurement, the number of viewers, or “popularity” for some.

And that ho-hum movie “Murder Mystery” starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler? To date, Netflix says since its June opening, 73 million households globally have watch it! For what it's worth -- by way of a very rough comparison -- the biggest TV event every year, the Super Bowl, pulls in around 100 million viewers.

Consumers may not always be interested in high-quality entertainment, maybe just average entertainment. Most of all, they want to get a good deal -- as does Netflix.

Here’s Heath Terry, Goldman Sachs managing director, on CNBC, talking about best consumer value by service in the space right now:

“By far, that is Netflix... The average Netflix consumer is spending about 17 cents per hour of content. That compares with 28 cents for basic cable, the next best value offering.”

What about other offerings to come, such as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max? Those look to be considerably higher -- and probably why Netflix will continue to be resilient.

3 comments about "Is Netflix Critic-Proof?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 28, 2019 at 10:37 a.m.

    Interesting, Wayne. Did Netflix explain how it determines which movie is responsible for causing each new subscriber to pony up his/her money. For example, if a particular movie is made available on a given date, does Netflix assume that it---and only it----caused people to subscribe? Or is some form of more sophisticated evaluation being done which takes into account all of the company's prior promotional efforts, word-of-mouth endorsements, exposure to other Netflix content via borrowed passwords, etc.?

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 28, 2019 at 1:49 p.m.

    My wife and son watched Roma with great anticipation but hated it anyway. It's not the first time the audience has disagreed with film critics.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research replied, October 28, 2019 at 7:40 p.m.

    Ed, I think you too know the answer to your (rhetorical?) question.

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