The Netflix Way

Netflix is taking the world by storm. Who would have thought that Television on Demand would have been so popular? Only kidding, of course it was going to be. The current population is so time poor that they don’t have time to watch ads and are fed up with free-to-air changing the viewing times around. What if theatre took the same approach?

People are increasingly watching movies and shows through subscribing services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

I have had Netflix for less than a week and I’m already hooked. In fact, it is difficult to find time to do anything else with my days now that on demand television and movies can fill up every spare void.

I often joke that there are only two rules any good marketer needs to know. One, listen to your audience and understand their behaviour. Two, find a meaningful point of difference.

The reason why Netflix is so successful is because it had managed to dial into these two golden rules.

It listened to its audience understanding that we don’t want to fit our lives around that great television show, we want to fit the show around our lives. And this system keeps its significant database in the one place unlike many of the television channel on demand platforms.

So how could theatre capitalise on this success?

There has always been opposition to recording theatre. The emphasis has always been on LIVE performance which probably engages the audience more but also creates a number of immovable barriers. But increasingly pioneers in the industry are opening up to the option.

Legally Blonde the Musical was broadcast on MTV. NBC has created an annual live theatre experience broadcasting a show live across the United States. (A concept which was seen as so popular that FOX has jumped on board with family favourite Grease later this year!). And National Theatre Live has taken an approach, much along the same lines as Netflix, allowing its audience the opportunity to see live theatre even if they cannot get there physically.

This has been a great success for the National Theatre and allowed them to overcome some great theatrical barriers in the process. Audiences for National Theatre Live don’t need to get dressed up in their best outfit, they can snuggle on the couch in their pyjamas. They can quite happily discuss what is going on and eat snacks as loudly as they like during the performance. And most importantly, they can rewind the action if they miss anything.

But while Netflix may be incredibly popular, it hasn’t made television obsolete due to one simple factor. Time. There is a delay in Netflix programming. If you want to watch the latest episodes of any series you need to watch them on free-to-air. But once it has become old news, the floodgates are let down and it becomes accessible to an enormous audience that it wouldn’t have previously reached meaning more eyes tuning in next season.

The same thing can happen in the theatre. All it takes is a bit of timing!