On February 1, 2013, the audiovisual industry changed forever. That day, Netflix premiered in fiction production with House of Cards, the version of an English series that came with the names of Kevin Spacey Y David Fincher as a great claim. There were still two and a half years to go before the platform arrived in Spain, but the company was ready to test a business strategy that was key to positioning its brand in a sector that was still taking its first steps. With the sudden release of all the episodes of a season of a series, the era of the binge watching, the audiovisual marathon of a lifetime.
Most of its direct rivals, such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ Y Hulu, they followed in his footsteps. A platform became the resistance of the traditional television experience. The pay channel that had said that they were not television, but HBO, clung to the prestige of its brand and continued with its usual content creation and consumption strategy. Eight years later, that audiovisual revolution may be giving its last blows.
In the past year, two HBO premieres have accomplished something their series had never accomplished before: seeing their audience grow every week. Although it does not seem particularly worthwhile to rise in popularity each week when we are talking about miniseries, in the previous thirty years no other title had achieved it. The Undoing, the first to achieve it, ended up as its most viewed fiction in 2020. This week it was made public that Mare of Easttown repeated that milestone and, in addition, surpassed the data of the limited miniseries of Nicole Kidman. The mystery created by Brad Ingelsby is already the greatest success in the short history of HBO Max.
What is happening so that Netflix, the queen of the sector with more than 200 million users, has been unable to create a memorable phenomenon so far in 2021? The platform ended last year through the big door chaining the successes of The Crown, Gambito de Dama Y The Bridgertons. Since then, the company has given more to talk about what was happening behind the cameras (its exorbitant acquisition of the brand Daggers in the back, the frightened of Regé-Jean Page, his lack of love with the Cannes festival) than for the content that reached his clients.
The crisis worsened this week. While the industry, the press and fans of the series raved about the end of the series starring Kate Winslet, Netflix was dropping a bomb. Less than a month after its premiere, Jupiter’s Legacy received a visit from the scythe. The platform had spent $ 200 million on a series that nobody was talking about days (hours) after its premiere. To amortize the millionaire agreement with Mark Millar (whose exclusive signing cost about 70 million dollars), the company has announced a spin-off of a series that has not even interested enough to have a second season.
Apart from the cold war between Netflix and HBO, the rest of the rivals took notes of what was happening at their neighbors’ house. Prime Video reached its first real phenomenon with the second season of The Boys. Amazon was criticized for its decision to change the broadcast strategy from the first season (launch in marathon mode) to the second (premiere of three episodes and then one episode per week), but the results were extraordinary. For the premiere of The underground railway, the acclaimed miniseries of Barry Jenkins, they went back to the marathon strategy with a series that in no way needs or appreciates it. Three weeks after its premiere, no one is talking about it anymore.
Disney + was clear that, for the sake of social conversation and its careful connection with the general public, the weekly premiere was the best choice for the first series of Star Wars and Marvel. Until Apple TV+, a company with a deficit marketing that seems unable to give visibility to its excellent catalog, achieved its first big success with Ted Lasso. The series starring Jason Sudeikis grew every week thanks to word of mouth and has all the ballots to end in September with an Emmy for best comedy series. An award that, by the way, Netflix still has not received and that it hopes to achieve once and for all with the fourth season de The Crown.
The biggest problem for the platform is not the debate between the weekly broadcast or the marathon, a debate in which, as in the absurd war of the dubbing against the original version, everyone has their own opinion. The curse of the monumental success of the company led by Ted Sarandos is that the brand’s own sublimation may be what causes its decline.
We are talking about the house of series like Orange is the new black, Bojack Horseman, Stranger Things, Sex Education, Glow O Mindhunter but, today, Netflix users consume the platform with the same attitude as the one that turns on Antenna 3 Saturdays to see a tv movie German: let’s see what happens this weekend. Would the weekly broadcast have fixed the poor harvest of the first half of 2021? How many people would have finished Sky Red if it is released from episode to episode? Many doubts and only one certainty: we haven’t talked about a Netflix series (well) for five months.