Netflix and the Networks: Where to from here?

An interesting article, TV Is Disrupting the Internet by Michael Wolf on The Hollywood Reporter has really got me thinking.  I was originally working on a blog post based on the following chart showing Pay TV subscriber Growth going negative.  My angle was to compare this to Netflix subscriber growth.

From “The Beginning of the End of the TV Industrial Complex” on recode by Peter Kafka

But, Michael Wolf has a different angle, one that makes me feel my original angle was too simple and it really merits some attention.  The money point he makes about Netflix is this “Other than residing on the web or as an app, Netflix actually rejects the conventions of digital media. It is not user-generated; it is not social; it is not bite size; it is not free.”

In other words, Netflix is not a very complicated web site.  It can be replicated.  It is actually everything the networks want to be online.

I think (and Mr. Wolf seems to agree) that the issue with the networks is their revenue model.  HBO is firmly entrenched in people’s minds as a monthly subscription model.  The vastness of the rest of the industry has a model based on ads.  Hence Hulu.

The question ultimately will be answered based on which model users prefer. People despise ads but they also resist subscription fees.

Aside from the excellent interface and use of technology (both of which HBOgo has trouble with), what is Netflix as competition for TV?  It’s a web site.  It can be replicated.

In fact, is it not possible that the the networks continue to lose audience as it is measured in the chart above and that they gain some of those very same subscribers — and possibly legions more — in their own online version of Netflix?

I think so.