Netflix desires 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 as we speak, he reiterated his perception, confidently saying that Netflix was in a fantastic place as a result of linear TV can be lifeless in “5 to 10 years.”
Hastings is financially incentivized to say this. One of many largest rivals 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 associates 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, in keeping with its 2022 Q2 earnings report. With greater than 220 million paying clients worldwide, it’s primarily discovered as many subscribers as it will. It’s making efforts to achieve subscribers: it is bought its incoming ad-supported tier (which gained’t embrace all of the content material you get now), and it’s going to attempt to finish the observe of account sharing—forcing sharers to subscribe or go with out streaming to any display screen larger than a laptop computer. However once you’ve principally bought as many subscribers as you’ll be able to at the moment, you want your rivals (linear TV, YouTube, TikTok, the nice open air, and so forth.) to do worse. So sure, after all, Hastings desires 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 unique 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 one of the vital watched exhibits in america regardless of going from a mean of 20 million viewers per episode to… 4 million.
However broadcast TV continues to be… you understand… free. You don’t must pay for web after which pay a subscription charge (or 12) on high of it. You’ll be able to simply flip in your TV, and supplied you’ve bought 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 juvenile dramas have been constantly a few of Netflix’s most consumed content material earlier than licensing agreements noticed them bounce off to different providers.
Broadcast TV can also be about to get a significant improve within the type of ATSC 3.0. Whereas its rollout has been glacial, the brand new commonplace for broadcast tv guarantees every kind of high quality enhancements that streaming fees a premium for—if it could possibly present in any respect. ATSC 3.0 helps 4K, and 120 frames per second, vast shade gamut, and HDR. Netflix at the moment fees $19.99 a month for that, and HBO Max has been so gradual to roll out 4K I typically query if it even is aware of what 4K is.
And broadcast TV is just one (free) aspect 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 we have now no real interest in consuming. Whereas viewership is down, cable stays the least obnoxious technique 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 is probably not any good, and positively prices you greater than you need to pay.
Plus, there’s the truth that virtually not one of the large streamers have managed to match one among linear TV’s most soothing options: the entire linear airing of content material factor. A endless stream you’ll be able to tune out and in of at leisure, and that may work as light 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 an alternative 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 widespread 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 wishes stays to be seen.
Disclosure: The Verge just lately produced a sequence with Netflix.