Netflix needs linear TV to die. CEO Reed Hastings has been banging the TV homicide drum for greater than 8 years now, and within the investor name at the moment, he reiterated his perception, confidently saying that Netflix was in an important place as a result of linear TV could be useless in “5 to 10 years.”
Hastings is financially incentivized to say this. One of many largest opponents for the biggest streaming service on the planet is the set of completely free streaming channels that beam into any TV with an antenna, and their costlier buddies on cable TV.
Netflix wants linear TV to die as a result of it wants the streaming holdouts nonetheless utilizing linear TV. It shed a whopping 1.3 million subscribers throughout the US and Canada within the final three months, based on its 2022 Q2 earnings report. With greater than 220 million paying clients worldwide, it’s primarily discovered as many subscribers as it may. It’s making efforts to realize subscribers: it is obtained its incoming ad-supported tier (which gained’t embody all of the content material you get now), and it’s going to try to finish the follow of account sharing—forcing sharers to subscribe or go with out streaming to any display screen greater than a laptop computer. However if you’ve principally obtained as many subscribers as you may presently, you want your opponents (linear TV, YouTube, TikTok, the good outside, and so on.) to do worse. So sure, in fact, Hastings needs linear TV to kick the bucket.
However is it actually going to occur? TV viewership numbers are down, that’s completely sure. After the elevated quantity of authentic content material on cable TV got here within the 2010s, the market fragmented, and the ability of the published TV stations waned. Gray’s Anatomy continues to be probably the most watched reveals in america regardless of going from a median of 20 million viewers per episode to… 4 million.
However broadcast TV remains to be… you realize… free. You don’t must pay for web after which pay a subscription payment (or 12) on prime of it. You may simply flip in your TV, and supplied you’ve obtained a ok antenna, get loads of good content material — the content material that Netflix is determined and struggling to recreate by itself service. The Workplace, Mates, Gray’s Anatomy, and CW’s complete lineup of adlescent dramas have been persistently a few of Netflix’s most consumed content material earlier than licensing agreements noticed them bounce off to different companies.
Broadcast TV can be about to get a significant improve within the type of ATSC 3.0. Whereas its rollout has been glacial, the brand new customary for broadcast tv guarantees every kind of high quality enhancements that streaming expenses a premium for—if it will probably present in any respect. ATSC 3.0 helps 4K, and 120 frames per second, broad shade gamut, and HDR. Netflix presently expenses $19.99 a month for that, and HBO Max has been so sluggish to roll out 4K I typically query if it even is aware of what 4K is.
And broadcast TV is just one (free) ingredient of linear TV. There are additionally all of the cable channels that we nonetheless subscribe to although streaming was supposed to avoid wasting us from outrageous charges and supporting content material now we have no real interest in consuming. Whereas viewership is down, cable stays the least obnoxious method to watch sports activities, and it is the quickest and most high-quality service for watching TV that’s in any other case restricted to a single app that will or might not be any good, and undoubtedly prices you greater than you need to pay.
Plus, there’s the truth that nearly not one of the massive streamers have managed to match one in every of linear TV’s most soothing options: the entire linear airing of content material factor. A endless stream you may tune out and in of at leisure, and that may work as mild background noise in your day-to-day life. I lengthy for one thing so simple as the power to make playlists on Netflix and as a substitute get an app that forgets I began Persuasion the night time earlier than.
Linear TV is struggling in comparison with Netflix. However how is linear TV alleged to die when streaming continues to have so many points and struggles to compete on the hyper well-liked content material entrance? It feels extra like streaming is chasing after linear TV and whispering “die already.” However whether or not it dies within the 5- to 10-year window that Reed Hastings needs stays to be seen.
Disclosure: The Verge lately produced a sequence with Netflix.