Chill the Netflix hype

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When was the last time you turned on terrestrial TV? If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to remember. My viewing habits over the last few years have been dominated by my Apple TV, Netflix, and more recently, Amazon video. Why should I channel hop, searching through endless repeats of Big Bang Theory, when all of the programmes I want to watch are just lined up for me. They even have increasing amounts of brand new programmes, and my TV suggests other programmes I want to watch?

It’s hardly surprising therefore that  that both Netflix and Amazon had been nominated for 17 Golden Globes last week, and that for the second year running, they had pipped HBO for the top spot.

The burning question on hand is whether the hype is warranted. Are Netflix and Amazon really blowing everyone else out of the water?

The Golden Ticket?

As always, this depends how you measure their success. However, a short answer is no, HBO is still top dog.

As we know both streaming services have recently made a foray into the world of film, with a few offerings, such as Beasts of No Nation from Netflix, and Manchester by the Sea, from Amazon Studios. I would suggest that these films should not be included in the overall count of Golden Globe nominations. Firstly and predominantly to compare Netflix, Amazon and HBO on level pegging, as HBO only make motion pictures for television, and not for the big screen. Secondly, Amazon were not the creators of their film Manchester by the Sea, acquiring the distribution rights for the film at the Sundance Film Festival for $10 million.

With this in mind, combined, Amazon and Netflix only scored 10 nominations this year for their television programmes, at 5 apiece, compared to a whopping 14 for HBO. The previous year’s Golden Globes (confusingly called the 2016 Golden Globes) did see Netflix pip HBO to the winning slot by a single nomination, with 8 against 7, apart from this blip HBO have been on top  since the launch of Netflix Original in 2013 with House of Cards.

Have the people spoken?

You can’t just judge a network by its nominations. Viewers matter too! In the UK, Netflix’s subscriber base is growing rapidly, thanks to some pretty aggressive expansion. From Q1 2014 to Q3 2016, Netflix’s subscribers have grown by 3.2 million, and now sits at a very healthy 6 million subscribers in the UK alone. Amazon have grown their subscribers, from 1.2 million in Q1 2014 to 1.9 million in Q3 2016. Less growth than Netflix, but it meant that at the end of 2015, over 24% of all UK households were subscribed to Netflix, Amazon Video or Sky’s Now TV. Unfortunately Amazon and Netflix keep their viewing stats a closely guarded secret, so we can’t compare viewing figures to terrestrial TV, which I’m sure would make interesting reading. Especially given that Amazon automatically subscribe you to Amazon Video if you sign up for their ‘Prime’ service.

The expansion hasn’t stopped there, and over the next few years, streaming services will likely expand rapidly. Amazon just paid over £160 million for James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson to sign up to their Grand Tour programme, the replacement Top Gear. Netflix have also reportedly paid over £100 million for The Crown, a series designed to appeal to an audience far from their current demographic. Not only that, but over 2016, it has been reported that Netflix have released circa 126 original series or films, more than any other US network.

You’re probably thinking “well, the hype is warranted then”. Sort of. The traditional broadcasters aren’t dead yet. Despite 24% of people having a streaming service in their house in the UK, 76% don’t. And traditional broadcasters are adapting. Last March, HBO launched their own answer to streaming services, HBO Now, and iPlayer, ITV Hub and Channel 4 all allow you to watch shows in your own time. It won’t be long before they begin to offer their shows in the same way Netflix and Amazon do.

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