Business World

Netflix Hopes to Get Into the News Business


Image Courtesy of Bryan Gosline

Comments from Netflix executives imply that the company wants to stay competitive as a news programming service. The cryptic comments came after the company’s earnings call, which fell short of their analysts’ expectations.

Expanding to Journalism?

Netflix is hinting that it may be expanding their operations into the world of journalism in the next few years. CEO Reed Hastings told news reporters that he wants the streaming service to extend beyond entertainment television programs and movies, and is implying that he wants people to subscribe with news programming in mind.

Critics, however, were not impressed, stating that an added service featuring news will likely turn away many people who still retain their Netflix subscriptions, explaining that many customers want to avoid unpleasant things like the news.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s head of content, explains, “We’re definitely being more adventurous in terms of the genres we’re going into.” Hastings followed up with a declarative statement; upon asking Sarandos: “What’s the likelihood that we compete directly with Vice in the next two years?” Sarandos replied, “Probably high.”

Edgy News Documentaries

Netflix Envelope

Image Courtesy of Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Despite the finality of their statements, Netflix spokesperson Jonathan Friedland later clarified that the company is not actually getting into the news business, and that Hasting and Sarandos are simply bantering.

Despite this, subtle clues show that Netflix is starting to break ground by adding edgy news documentaries to their content. Among the shows that explore these are Virunga and Winter of Fire. The company has also been ramping its original documentary filmmaking, which is a clear indicator of their interest in the news genre.

Despite trying to break new ground, Netflix is apparently ignoring one service that many critics believe would really attract more subscribers – the sports scene. Sarandos further clarified their stance on the genre, saying, “Sports on demand is not as exciting as sports live.” He added, “There are a lot irrational bidders for sports, and we’re not anxious to become another one.”

Amidst the many statements, subscribers still don’t have a clear view of what the company has in store in the near future. Regardless, Netflix seems adamant to establish its mark on fields and genres that rely primarily on timelessness as a virtue, and they seem to be suggesting a daily release schedule that hopefully, would serve as a major departure from what subscribers have seen so far.

Only the future can tell what Netflix has in store for its subscribers. For now, they’ll have to rely on the company’s cryptic statements and vague reports on their plans for the future.