Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer, who was promoted to COO last year, sees the shrinking of cinema windows as inevitable.
“It’s what consumers want,” he said. “It’s hard to resist this trend for too long and I think that’s where things will go.”
Long before Covid-19 forced the industry to rethink exclusive cinema windows (which were dumped by Warner Bros and, in some cases, other majors), Netflix began pouring billions of dollars into movies. The push has spawned notable award winners like The Irishman, Roma and this year’s big harvest, including Da Five Bloods, Mank and I Care a Lot. It has also produced large-audience films with traditional Hollywood DNA like The Old Guard, Extraction, and Six Underground. Talks between exhibitors and Netflix have not resulted in a sales breakthrough, despite Cinemark testing shorter Netflix windows. The chain’s CEO Mark Zoradi recently said the company is in active booking negotiations with several streaming outlets.
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In addition to Windows, Peters discussed pricing, global expansion, product improvements, and other topics during a virtual session at Morgan Stanley’s technology, media, and telecommunications conference.
Swinburne asked Peters how he reacts to streaming competitors criticizing him for offering an “endless scroll” of programming in his user interface. Several new streaming subscribers, including HBO Max and the soon-to-be-renamed Paramount +, have knocked on Netflix specifically for creating an overwhelming sensation among many viewers.
“We created the most compelling entertainment collection ever at the touch of a button,” said Peters. “This is incredible for consumers and for our members. For us as user experience designers and builders, this presents a challenge as it is our job to break that selection down into something that makes it easy and fun and exciting to choose what you want to see next. We wake up every day and think about how we can improve that. So we’re far from satisfied with where we are and hundreds of tests are being run to try to do better. “
At the same time, the large number of shows like Bridgerton and Lupine in the first four weeks (at 82 million and 70 million viewers respectively) proves that the Netflix interface is effective, Peters added.
The company has made some key changes, such as an on-screen top 10 popularity ranking and a “shuffle play” button, Peters said. The company is also developing additional generation viewing tools that allow three generations of a family to select titles that will appeal to the audience.
A massive influx into the original programming in recent years has made the program proposal process even more complex. Originals quickly change from completely unknown to “blockbuster” status. “We have originals that were in this ‘challenge to awareness’ state and are now in a fully recognized state,” he said, citing Stranger Things and Bridgerton.
When asked by moderator and Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne about the company’s pricing approach, Peters said that “it’s mostly about listening to members.” Over the years, the company “has become better and better able to interpret these signals”.
Netflix recently raised the monthly cost of its most popular U.S. subscription, the first increase in two years, to $ 14 per month.
In Asia, where Netflix will see more growth compared to more mature Western markets in the coming years, the approach is no fundamentally different from that in other global regions, according to Peters. Peters noted that only mobile plans were tested in several Asian markets. “It is a fertile space” for experimentation and keeping abreast of consumer expectations and their pay.