Netflix is taking a bolder stance as “the leader” in web-based distribution, vs. being a company among leaders.


Netflix Changed the Way it Describes Itself. But Why?

September 16, 2013

Written By: Todd Gara, The Wall Street Journal

An interesting spot by analyst Richard Greenfield at BTIG: As he notes in a blog post today, Netflix recently updated its “Long Term View”, a manifesto-like vision statement on what the company is and what it is becoming.

The document was originally released back in April, and began like this (emphasis ours):

Over the coming decades and across the world, Internet TV will replace linear TV.
Apps will replace channels, remote controls will disappear, and screens will proliferate.

As Internet TV grows from millions to billions, Netflix, HBO, and ESPN are leading the way.

After its recent refresh, that last line has been changed in a small but interesting way (emphasis ours, again):

As Internet TV grows from millions to billions, Netflix is leading the way.

Netflix went from pushing the industry forward along with two of cable’s most successful players, to doing the hard work all on its own.

What else has changed? Greenfield runs through the big points over at his blog, but there are a few notable things he mentions.

– One point previously made was that Netflix is “not a generic video company” doing news, sports, reality TV and so on. “We are movies and TV shows,” it said. After the update, that has got an interesting addition: It now reads “We are a movie and TV series network” (emphasis ours).

– A riff on the long-tail nature of internet TV — instead of a tight lineup of mainstream hits, “the Internet allows us to offer a wide selection, and to have our user-interface quickly learn each individual’s taste” — is still there. But the next paragraph, which concluded that “even the highest-demand titles don’t materially swing viewing” was removed.

– A projection that about 10% of total spending will go toward developing original shows has been removed. In its place, a less specific plan to “stay efficient in terms of what we spend relative to licensed content.”

It’s hard to know what all this means — these kind of documents can be reworded for any number of reasons — but it’s not hard to see a trend: Netflix increasingly sees itself as the HBO network of the internet TV age, it wants to build up its name for exclusive shows you can’t watch anywhere else, and it’s not keen on limiting how much it can spend on producing its own shows to get there.