It seems that Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, is quietly in talks with cable companies in a possible attempt to add the Netflix service as an add-on to cable. The move, which would give Netflix greater reach and would give cable providers an additional bundling element in their line-up, might appear to be a win-win on paper. But the effect on the Netflix brand would not be a positive – nor is it the right step in aligning with the future of delivering content.
In any discussion I have had with friends and colleagues, I have yet to find someone who speaks highly of their cable service. The service is never great, the prices are too high, you are not able to pay only for the content you want and you have little control. In addition, cable represents the “middle man” between the creator of content and us. With streaming video (HBO GO, any one?), cable companies are nearing extinction.
Netflix was wise when it initially focused on DVDs and it was even wiser when it made the transition to instant streaming.
The biggest hurdle for Netflix is that, even though there is a lot of content it streams, the content is too incomplete. You still need to supplement Netflix with cable, satellite or another streaming service like Hulu. Its focus should be on closing this gap, not bridging it. When I go to Best Buy, I often have a hard time killing time browsing. I used to be able to that with ease. Now, though, there is just a lot of obsolete space. I have no interest in browsing the CD collection or DVD collection, which consumes most of the middle of its stores. I have seen the future in digital and have no use for hard copies anymore. This is my feeling about cable. I have tasted instant streaming, be it ESPN3, Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes, and streaming tastes oh so much better.
Apple famously is quick to do away with outdated technology before the rest of the industry (removing the diskette drive, adopting USB, avoiding Flash). It always stays current and ahead of the curve because it is the one making the curve. (In Walter Isaacson’s book, Steve Jobs, Jobs said consumers don’t know what they want next until they have it.) Netflix must do the same. I don’t want to have another reason to remain with my cable provider. I want someone to give me a way out.
With the advent of smart TVs, game consoles, and set-top boxes, all connecting to streaming services, Netflix‘s ability to reach the market will continue to sufficiently expand without having to align with cable providers. If you lay with dogs, you will wake up with fleas. Remember this Netflix, because my cable provider is covered in them.