Netflix is in a bit of a rut.
The original streaming service, having so successfully shifted from selling DVDs, has become a household name and global phenomenon, gifting us legendary original TV shows, loads of memes, and a cult phrase (opens in new tab).
While it might be still be among the best streaming services, the cracks are appearing after the pandemic seemingly inflated demand (opens in new tab) and years of profligate spending – plus the departure of key personnel (opens in new tab) – created a problem that seems difficult to correct.
Of course, things aren't over for Netflix: millions of people around the world still subscribe to its services and low its shows and movies. However, it's hard to escape the feeling that Netflix is in trouble.
As Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video go from strength to strength, Netflix needs to be careful.
The company recently laid off 150 people (opens in new tab), out of its 11,000-odd workforce, including some from executive ranks, a potential sign of things to come.
To help Netflix out, we thought we'd offer some unsolicited advice, so here goes.
Ads ads ads
After many years rejecting adding ads to the service, Netflix now appears like it will relent, although when exactly remains unclear (opens in new tab).
The upshot, though, is that ads make a lot of sense because they mean Netflix can launch cheap – or free – tiers, available to a lot more people, especially in low-income countries.
Given that Netflix is best known for its TV output, ads are a fairly natural part of the experience, too, as opposed to putting multiple ad breaks within a movie.
The beauty of the system would also be that Netflix will still offer ad-free plans, just for more money, so you'll never have to watch ads if you don't want to.
More quality content
It's easier said than done – obviously – but Netflix needs to get back to its original content roots, reminding people why they subscribed in the first place.
The service has been overrun with average, so-so content that leaves you feeling empty after scrolling through the first pages.
Amazon, for example, has gone down the route of producing endless high quality sports documentaries, such as the All or Nothing series, and it makes a lot of sense: sportspeople want to control their own narratives.
Netflix has produced a lot of high quality documentaries, of course, and there is no need to mimic what a rival is doing. But finding a niche and working on that, getting back to its core, would do Netflix the world of good.
People used to go to Netflix as the destination but I doubt that is the case for a lot of people now.
Let people take screenshots
Like Quibi before it, removing the ability to screenshot content on Netflix is a silly move: the upsides are far outweighed by the downsides.
Netflix is never going to get people off-handedly creating memes about their shows, or even sharing screenshots with friends, without screenshots and removing them was a mistake.
It's unlikely to completely reverse the fortunes of the company – and there are ways around the block – but it definitely doesn't help, especially in a time when Netflix wants its content to go far and wide.
Netflix needs to foster buzz around its shows and genuine water-cooler moments, with people chatting about what's new and hot at work.
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