It's obvious that Netflix and broadcast TV are in two very different businesses. If Netflix doesn't know this, they're in bigger trouble than I thought.
was created for the broadcast business, where content has been shaped by the need to corral huge, broad-based audiences for big-ticket advertisers like McDonald's and Ford. This business model has been undermined by competition from cable, etc, so the show's basic problem is that it's being made for a need that no longer exists, as even broadcast is forced to start chasing niche-ier audiences.
And if that need doesn't exist on broadcast, it certainly doesn't exist anyplace that is funded by subscriptions rather than ads. Under the subscription model, you don't need mass audiences - there are no advertisers to please - so the name of the game is pleasing smaller niche audiences well enough to motivate them to pay for your service. That's the premium cable business model. Basic cable is a mix of the two and the shows on basic cable are, logically, also a mix of the two approaches.
Since Netflix is subscription, not ad supported, they need to act less like FOX and more like HBO. If HBO or Showtime wouldn't bother with a show like Terra Nova
- and of course they wouldn't, at least without changing it fundamentally to appeal to their own audiences - then it would make no sense for Netflix to do that either.
If foreign audiences are enough to tempt Netflix, then why don't HBO and Showtime also pick up broadcast flops? (Answer: it would screw up their brand image, which is something Netflix needs to start concerning itself with, especially since their business is in flux, and therefore their brand image is up for grabs. HBO and Showtime understand that making a quick buck is not a smart idea at the cost of their brand image, which is the most valuable thing any business owns.)
It will be interesting to follow this and other efforts by Netflix to produce television series. Its a logical progression in the increasingly fractured number of television outlets available for viewers.
That's my interest here, too. The Terra Nova
deal really doesn't make a lot of sense for Netflix from a strategic standpoint. At this point, they need to start creating their own brand of content, and picking up the pricey rejects of the dinosaur broadcast model (no pun intended) is not the way to do that.
Sure, they might make some short-term money, but anyone who understands long-term strategic thinking and where the business as a whole is going will quickly understand that Terra Nova
is an irrelevance. They have the right basic idea to be interested in a cultish sci fi show, but to try to retool one that has been massively rejected by American audiences is simply not worth their while.
Shows like Terra Nova
simply have no place on TV anymore, and certainly not in the emerging streaming video market. The fact that foreign audiences like it more than Americans just shows that foreign audiences are a few years behind where Americans are, in terms of TV viewing tastes, because their markets are not as mature. They'll get where we are sooner or later. Strategic
marketing is all about shooting for where the market is going, not picking low-hanging fruit today.
I had no idea Netflix produced their own shows!
I'm not sure they have actually done so yet, but, it's known to be the step on their ladder, they want to implement
They produced Lilyhammer
, and it's been a big honking flop. but that's more the type of show you'd see on HBO or Showtime, so at least they had the sort of right idea. House of Cards
is also obviously in the same category since HBO and Showtime were bidding on it. Terra Nova
is a weird outlier when compared with the other shows Netflix is developing or reviving.
When you're choosing from the leavings of canceled shows, you shouldn't set your sights too high.
is the kind of cancelled show they're right to set their sights on. It was always too nichey and sophisticated for broadcast, which is why it failed there. Netflix also realizes that sci fi's inherent cult appeal fits their business model, but Terra Nova
has already been fatally crippled by the attempt to pound it into the square hole of bland broadcast tastes. They'd have to invest more money in reshaping it into something to fit their own business model, and it's more cost effective to start over from scratch with something different.
And frankly, I wouldn't worry too much about catering to the specific tastes of foreign audiences. They are less picky than Americans because their markets are less developed and they have less to be picky about. A revamped Terra Nova
with less of the soapy teen angst crap and formulaic storytelling would work just as well overseas. But it's more bother for Netflix than it's worth.
This is a long shot to be sure but I wonder if at some point they could release a new Star Trek series exclusively through Netflix.
My mind keeps drifting in that direction, too.
Netflix should be talking to CBS about Star Trek
. Now there's a brand name that has some cachet, thanks to JJ Abrams, and if they have money to burn, burn it on something good. Or, go the Game of Thrones
route and pick up a sci fi or fantasy book series with a big dedicated fanbase. Or do both.
And don't forget the opportunity cost in all this. Netflix has the resources to do X new shows. Whatever that number is, it's finite. Why waste time putting lipstick on a pig? Right now is a very crucial time for Netflix, as they are shaping their brand image going forward. Do they really want to be known as the purveyor of cosmetically enhanced porkers?