The future for movies: Netflix


Netflix hit the UK market in January 2012 and I eagerly signed up for the free one month’s trial. I was a bit more in the know than the usual consumer because I’d been watching the online streaming market with much anticipation.

Being 28, I am the perfect age for being continually exploited by Hollywood. I grew up watching what I feel was the golden age for films with epic stories like Back to the Future and as these films aged, so did the multitude of formats that I could consume them on.

I can honestly say that I’ve watched Back to the Future on:

  • Television
  • VHS
  • Recordable VHS (scratchy)
  • DVD
  • Cinema

I could also watch it on Blu-ray and, if I wanted to, I could download it from iTunes.

Since the advent of Blu-ray, I’ve refused to bow down to what is essentially another revenue stream for Hollywood. As a result I stopped buying movies and I visited the cinema more often. I didn’t want to clutter my house with DVD cases as I had with videos a decade before. So, what is the future for this type of digital media?

Enter Netflix.

It’s rise to prominence in the US goes to show that physical DVDs are not the way forward regardless of how well Redbox are doing and disregarding the fact that LoveFilm have done exceptionally well in the UK.

The LoveFilm model still centres around posting DVDs and that doesn’t attract me at all, it’s not a sustainable way forward. They’ve recently entered the streaming market but I feel that it’s mainly as a reaction to Netflix emergence on the scene.

After initially firing up Netflix, my reaction was that most of the content appeared to be really old. But after a few minutes browsing the simple interface, I stumbled upon films I had heard of, but never seen, films I missed when they were in the cinema, or tv shows that I heard about late and I could now go and revisit early episodes.

This, it seems, is the future. I’d recently bought The Inbetweeners box set from iTunes and it sat on my computer, taking up vital disk space and it cost me a good £20 to buy. Here I was, with the entire back catalogue available to me for a mere £5 a month.

It doesn’t end there.

I have Sky+ at home, but I don’t subscribe to the movies package. Why would I pay an additional £20 a month for access to films that Sky want to show, when they want to show them? For a quarter of that price, I can now pick from thousands of films and tv shows and watch them when I want to watch them. In addition, they’re not taking up vital hard disk space and I never have to own a single video or DVD.

I essentially own them all, just by having a Netflix membership.

I’d be interested in trying out LoveFilm but I think the battle that will now be waged between these two heavyweight streaming services is all about the content. Comments may be drawn on the ease of use and UX design but it will all come down to the strength of films and TV shows.

In my mind, Netflix already have that edge. They’ve been in the business for longer, have a greater dedication to streaming and are arguably closer to Hollywood, who ultimately have all the power.

About Andrew Smallwood

Experienced digital strategist with a foundation in web development and analytics. Leads multi-disciplinary teams in content creation and digital marketing ensuring data is at the core of decision making.

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