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Netflix: The New Gen Content Producer Has social media trained us to consume complex stories or there are other variables at play?

By Pritish Sanyal

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Netflix has been successful in pushing the envelope not only on consumer acceptance of video consumption through the Internet but also on the acceptance of a new generation of intertwined and complex shows.

Shows such as the "Russian Doll", "You", "Friends From School", and "Stranger Things" are not sitcoms that run on set-top boxes. The complexity of each character, innovative storytelling, riveting script and the overall stories sets them apart from the run-of-the-mill soap operas. The Internet generation consumer interest has evolved and moved away from sitcoms where stories are monolithic.

Netflix has figured out a consumer segment that appreciates avant-garde media. Who are these consumers and how are they different from the others? Netflix demographic data tells us the top 10 countries where Netflix is most popular have one of the highest education levels in the world, and six out of 10 are non-English speaking countries who are consuming the likes of "Russian Doll" in English with or without subtitles.

Where Success Lies

The success of these experimental and futuristic shows is highly attributable to the genius Netflix marketing techniques, ease of use, original content that is built on the foundation of data.

Netflix comes with massive firepower. Netflix spent US$ 2.37 billion in marketing in 2018 and plans to up that budget by 22 per cent this year. You can browse Netflix using only three buttons. Netflix's Original series have become a hallmark and viewers vouch for them. Your Netflix suggested section is a summary of your content consumption pattern that Netflix has gathered through your browsing, pausing and rewinding history. Netflix has multiple thumbnails depicting different aspects of the show and depending on your viewing history, the corresponding thumbnail is shown.

What Audience Wants

Today, data has become synonymous with the divine. Data analysis by Netflix suggests that viewers prefer horror movies around Christmas. This is the reason "Bird Box" was released during Christmas 2018 and became a blockbuster. This trend was surprising and contrary to the consumption of joyous movies produced by Hallmark at the same time every year.

One can only speculate the basis of consumption patterns. Has the social media trained us to consume complex stories or there are other variables at play? It seems like the classic chicken and egg problem: Are these consumers created by Netflix or they already existed and Netflix identified them and created content for them. It will be interesting to see if this consumption pattern sticks as the Netflix user base is projected to grow from 300 million-plus to a billion users, with the biggest share coming from Asia.

Pritish Sanyal

Director of Investment, AngelHub


Pritish is an experienced operator, with over 10 years of experience in building and scaling early and growth stage startups across Asia. He has worked with HYPE (Venture Studio by Airbnb and WeWork team), Surkus, GrowthKungFu, Gormei, HKU, and Accenture.

He completed his MBA from The University of Hong Kong and London Business School, and engineering from RV College of Engineering in Karnataka.


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