At this year’s Golden Globes, Netflix reached a milestone: it won best TV series for The Crown, their biopic of Queen Elizabeth II.
This marks a watershed for new, streaming subscription TV brands.
In only a few short years, Netflix has graduated from being nominated for a Golden Globe to stealing the limelight from traditional cable channels.
Hot on their tails, Amazon Prime picked up awards for its series Goliath and for its first feature film, Manchester by the Sea.
Shockingly, HBO – arguably the channel that kick-started the USA’s ‘golden age’ of television – walked away from the Golden Globes without a single win despite 14 nominations.
By contrast, Netflix and Amazon Prime together won 16% of all categories (8% a piece).
In the TV categories, Netflix dominated, receiving 9% of the nominations compared to Amazon’s 2%, and won 18% of TV awards. In other words: 11% of all TV nominations were for streaming service productions.
Netflix and Amazon Prime together won 11% of all TV nominations.
Not bad considering the biggest TV winner on the night was The People vs. O.J. Simpson with 27% of TV nominations, while the movie La-La Land, won 28% of the movie categories.
All this illustrates Netflix and Amazon Prime’s strategic approach. They see where the future of TV is going: given the proliferation of media channels and sheer choice at people’s fingertips, they see TV brands will live and die by their content.
Leveraging content for strategic advantage
Yet, the paradox is Netflix has grown rapidly with only a fraction of its content being original, but things are decisively shifting.
Similar to Sky, Netflix doesn’t advertise Netflix – they showcase their original content to communicate the brand, inserting themselves into culture. Now, when you log into Netflix, the first thing we now see is their ‘Original’ content.
Over the past five years, Netflix has been leveraging the halo effect of their original content to drive subscriptions – but this has only ever been a fraction of their overall library. Netflix’s ambition is to reach 50% original content over the coming years.
Currently at an estimated 30% ‘Original’ content, it seems to be working. Subscriptions in Ireland and the UK have been growing in double digits the past number of years, and recent research shows subscribers enjoy Netflix’s content much more than their diminishing stock of syndicated content.
We are seeing similar thing with Amazon Prime where, in January, their alt-history thriller, The Man in the High Castle, became the most popular digital series in the US.
Seen this way, award wins are important strategic tactics: they establish credibility of their content, helping drive buzz, consideration, subscription and viewership.
But, all this looks a bit like these channels are beginning to behave more like traditional TV channels than disruptors with a completely new model.
this looks a bit like these channels are beginning to behave more like traditional TV channels than disruptors
In this so-called ‘Golden Age’ of television, this is where the TV battleground is intensifying across platforms. It is expected that there may be 500 scripted series in production in the US in 2017 and 130 of these are expected to be on a digital service including Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The lesson for brands is to understand the importance today in having a ‘beacon’ as a strategic branding tool.
Whether it’s providing compelling content, providing a service that is uniquely useful, or showcasing the most compelling product in a range that best exemplifies your brand, even if it is not the biggest seller, effective growth strategies can be built around the margins.
Sometimes your disproportionate strategic advantage is where you might least expect it.