While 2020 has been known for many things, one thing it will forever be remembered as, in the world of entertainment, is the year every media conglomerate opted to shake things up — and the latest of the bunch is none other than everyone’s favorite binge streamer, Netflix.
As reported by THR yesterday, the big N, following the loss of Channing Dungey as the SVP of Original Content earlier this month, has decided to change some things within its corporate structure.
Up until now, Netflix siloed its content machine by genre, and then into different budget levels and territories within those genres. One exec would handle high-budget dramas while another handled low-budget sci-fi/fantasy and another took charge of Canadian imports as another managed the Irish mysteries. As you can imagine, this makes for a hell of a strange development process, which Netflix has finally realized. Starting now, the company will instead pursue a more traditional TV content model broken out by drama, comedy, event series, unscripted series and overall deals (the Shondas and Ryan Murphys of the world get to do whatever they want as long as they do it for Netflix).
Sound boring? Understandable. But, this is a pretty big deal for a company that, essentially, hates the idea of doing things the traditional way.
Netflix is a rebel. A disrupter. A– whatever buzzword you want to use for a company that thinks a way of doing things is broken simply because it’s old. But sometimes, a system is unchanged for years and years because it works. Restructuring the company into a more traditional model that lacks these “silos” will give Netflix’s creators a better understanding of just who they need to talk to for their project and help streamline the company’s content development process.
Now, instead of seeking out the head of YA/Family event shows based on New York Times bestsellers, you can just pitch to the head of drama.
More important, however, is what this move could signal for Netflix’s future. Is the company finally coming around to the fact that stacking your slate with a cavalcade of expensive loss-leader programs, while flashy, doesn’t actually produce a profit? Possibly. Could it signal Netflix is now going to be more willing to make actual television and not just ten-hour movies? Again, maybe. Could they be launching a free-tier as the idea of AVOD content continues to gain traction within the mainstream? WHY NOT?!
This is being discussed.
— Jon Spaihts (@jonspaihts) October 28, 2020
None of this is meant to imply we know what Netflix is going to do next but we do know one thing. Netflix is changing. Arguably, for the better. A media company cannot survive by pouring tens of millions of dollars into flashy genre shows, backed by movie stars, that get canceled after a single season.
Television is a medium fueled by shows that consistently draw audience. The medical shows. The procedurals. The multi-cam sitcoms. These are the things that make television profitable. You can only make these things when you create an environment that invites them in and supports the idea that being a consistent draw is more important than getting a headline in Variety or winning an Emmy.
Netflix has been long overdue for this kind of change and we should welcome it because, as the streaming trendsetter, what’s good for Netflix is good for everyone else. And, if everyone else goes this way, we may finally get some consistently reliable shows of these companies.