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Although Netflix spends billions of dollars on developing and producing original content, most of the network’s top 20 shows streamed last year were acquired, with The Office and Friends coming out on top, according to Nielsen.
At Vanity Fair ‘ s New Establishment Summit this week, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos offered his theory as to why: “One of the reasons Friends and The Office are so popular is because they’re on Netflix. Remember from the (’60s) that saying, ‘The medium is the message?’ Part of the enduring success of those shows is that they’ve been available on Netflix in a way where people can watch them and ingrain them in their lives.”
When Sarandos added that the same would not have happened had the series been on any other streaming network, moderator Katie Couric asked, “Does it really matter if they’re on Netflix or any other streaming channel? Aren’t (fans) there for the show?”
He responded that, for years, both series have been syndicated and available to watch on demand in other formats, but their popularity only peaked in recent years, and “a lot of that phenomenon has been because of Netflix.”
In an AdWeek story earlier this year, Brian Fuhrer, Nielsen’s svp of product leadership, explained that when viewers begin a series, they have a tendency to finish it. Considering that Friends and The Office each have over 200 episodes, this could also explain why they’re so popular for Netflix’s binge audience. Most Netflix Originals, after all, have less than 100 episodes, granting them “a very brief lifespan.”
Sadly for Sarandos, both series will soon leave Netflix. In 2020, Friends will make the move to HBO Max, the newest streaming competitor for the network, while The Office will head out in 2021 for NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service.
At the same time, Seinfeld will swoop in, which Netflix is rumoured to have paid more than $500 million for. If the fans come running, we’ll know if Sarandos’s theory was right after all.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019