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Friday, February 15, 2013

Is Netflix the New HBO?

If you have scanned media columns the last few weeks, you probably have noticed titles to articles similar or perhaps identical to the headline of this post. Netflix premiered a series entitled “House of Cards” on February 1st. The 13 episodes of the political drama starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright were released all at once. Several columnists described how they holed up for the weekend and watch all the episodes in one long gulp.  I was not that enthralled but I really did enjoy it. “House of Cards” altered my viewing habits and, it turns out, will continue to do so for a few more weeks.

Each morning, I make a cup of coffee and then turn on the TV and watch the business news. I toggle back and forth between CNBC and Bloomberg News and sometimes squeeze in some time on “Morning Joe” On MSNBC. Over the last few weeks, that has been it for TV viewing. I have been going to my laptop and watching “House of Cards.” When I finished all the episodes,I recalled, that back in 1990 I had seen portions of a show of the same name on the BBC via Masterpiece Theatre. So I went on Netflix, found it, and now I am working my way through that multi-part series and comparing it to the made for Netflix entry.

My point here is that except for some financial advertising when I am not channel hopping, I am virtually cut off from traditional TV messaging for the next few weeks (of course, I watched the Super Bowl and my adopted hometown Ravens along with the entire commercial load that night). But, in essence, I will be without almost all advertiser supported TV for at least a month. My youngest panel member e-mailed me and said “Really, who cares that an old guy like you is not seeing commercials”.  I laughed when I read it but I think that there are any number of advertisers who would like to reach an active and reasonably liquid prospect such as I.

And, more importantly, there may be several hundred thousand others like me! All of this ties in to a theme that I have been pushing the last few years in Media Realism. Every time something new comes along such as Hulu or Netflix originals or growing DVR penetration, it all impacts the power of advertiser supported TV and cable. If properties like Hulu and Netflix start producing more quality content and Amazon keeps buying up rights to other video, it has to make reaching light and affluent viewers even more difficult than it is today.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com

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