Friday, March 18, 2011

Innovation and Tactics Series: Netflix Bids for Original Programming.

Executive Summary: Netflix has been lauded for its ability to manage innovation, especially for its ability to translate innovation into real impact on its business. This post helps us think through some of the market possibilities it can target. From the Desk of "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Its a... Jedi mind trick!"

The News, The Question

Netflix seems to be making interesting moves in content production:

The news reminded me of a curveball I recently threw to some very bright folks:
Will Netflix get into running movie theaters (or atleast renting them out temporarily)?

What Does The Question Mean?

The folks found the question interesting enough to pause to think it through. This is not because they did not have a (what may seem like an obvious) ready answer, but because it should, and apparently did, make you think about Netflix's context and how it is disrupting the context around it.
To rephrase:
1. Can Neflix groupon its at-home viewers into a high quality, custom generated "in theater" experience?
2. Can Netflix be vertically integrated in a niche market, while still serving what is currently its core market?

All in all, how do these ideas impact its profitability and its margins? At worst, can a capability to pursue the option posed in the question be a useful negotiation tool?

To dig a little bit deeper:
- What about Netflix's current position and capabilities (e.g. continued investment in innovation) provides it a competitive advantage?
- As Netflix get to know more of its customers better, how can it leverage it's information better?

Structure Around the Question

Here are a couple of paths to making sense of this question on Netflix:
- Content Development and Production -> Content Channels and Distribution -> Content Consumption
Or the reverse:
- Content Consumers and Markets -> Content Channels and Distribution -> Content Development and Production

Deep Dive Into The Market and The Consumer

Lets walk through the first way of looking through this process:
A. Who is Neflix's core consumer? What market is Netflix targeting?

1. Viewers of TV and movie dvd like content "experience" at home with access to a mailbox and to an internet ready device?
2. Viewers of video content "experience" at home with access to an internet ready device?
3. Viewers of an entertainment "experience" anywhere with access to an internet ready device?
4. Viewers of an entertainment "experience" with access to an internet ready device or with access to a specific location?

Now, you can define a spectrum of "experience" as well, from a streaming video "experience" on a small device while on the move, to a fixed location video "experience" of the IMAX or the "IFC Theater"/ "Indie Movies" sort. As for margins, isn't the IMAX share price hear its LTM high?

Now that you have some lightbulbs flashing in your mind, need I say more?

What do you think?

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