Netflix’s Di Caprio deal a smart move

Friday, March 27, 2015

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Brightcove’s Luke Gaydon examines a deal between OTT poster child and Hollywood megastar that he thinks is breaking down the traditional rules of TV

Following the success of Hollywood actor come film producer Leonardo Di Caprio’s wildlife documentary Virunga – nominated for an Oscar at this year’s awards – Netflix recently announced that it has signed a multi-year partnership with the star to produce a range of documentary and docu-series that will premier exclusively on the streaming site over the coming months. There’s no doubt, this is a smart move by both Netflix and DiCaprio.

Responding to the growing trend for consumers ‘binge-watching’ entire series through video-on-demand (VOD) services, it’s clear that Netflix isn’t happy settling with just changing the way we watch TV, but now striving to revolutionise the way it is made. At Brightcove, we have been vocal about our belief that Netflix has the potential to be a real game-changer for the future of TV and this latest development is case and point.

Netflix hits the A-list

Partnering with acclaimed producers in the TV and film industry is a logical next step for Netflix as it looks to monopolise the OTT landscape – although DiCaprio is not the first A-lister to sign on the dotted line.

Back in October, Netflix announced that actor and comedian Adam Sandler would star in and produce four films for exclusive viewing on the service, the first of which – Ridiculous 6 – began production last month. DiCaprio’s deal echoes this, marking a clear trend for Netflix in terms of the content it plans to produce in order to provide viewers with what they want, when they want it.

Out with the old…

Our own research shows that consumer expectations of VOD are on the up – with over half (53%) streaming VOD content through players like Netflix at least once a week and 44% at least twice a week. So, as more and more consumers watch on-demand, it’s obvious that services like Netflix have already changed our TV habits. Traditional ‘appointment to view TV’ is out, in favour of on-demand shows that can be watched anytime, anywhere – with the vast majority (73%) of consumers saying they would choose to watch VOD instead of linear TV for this very reason.

…in with the new

This switch in favour of VOD is ultimately changing the structure and format of television itself. As ‘restrictive’ linear TV schedules are being rejected by consumers who don’t want to wait a week for the next episode, the appeal of ‘self-scheduling’ or ‘time-shifted viewing’ through OTT services has grown. In turn, TV producers and filmmakers are also seeing the benefits of pure-play streaming services to exclusively seed their shows to a growing audience of content-hungry consumers – and Netflix has clocked on.

This latest move is a great example of how disruptive players are not only consolidating the era of on-demand television in consumers’ minds, but in the minds of content producers too.

OTT players like Netflix are gradually breaking down the traditional rules of TV, experimenting with new content, viewing models and business models, as well as production formats. So, however the future of TV looks, VOD is certainly set to play a big part – and if Netflix announces a production partnership with Steven Spielberg tomorrow, we wouldn’t be too surprised.

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