Traditional Telly Has Nothing To Fear From Netflix

Traditional Telly Has Nothing To Fear From Netflix

If the UK model is any indication, Netflix will be less of the ogre many people think it will when it launches in Australia, says Gill Whitehead, Channel 4 UK’s director of audience technologies and insight.

John Bastick
Posted by John Bastick

Whitehead was in Sydney recently and said she felt the US streaming service would probably snare a similar amount of audience share in Australia as it does in the UK – around three per cent.

Speaking at last week’s Broadcast Digital Media Summit, Whitehead said although Netflix had been a massive disruptor in the US market she felt it and the other streaming services would have a lesser impact in Australia as they had done in the UK.

“These (video streaming sites) are having an impact but it’s much less than it is in the States where 30 per cent of the streaming traffic is coming from Netflix. In the UK it’s more like three per cent and they’ve been in the UK market now for three years,” Whitehead revealed.

“I think the reason for that is that TV advertising is quite heavily regulated in the UK and we have lower advertising limitage which means an advertising-free platform like Netflix has less of appeal. I also think Americans are much more used to subscribing to services,” she said.

One area Whitehead conceded that Netflix had excelled was using data to program and schedule shows. She cited Netflix’s signature program House Of Cards as an example. Netflix got behind the program early in its development and then outbid all-comers for it when its demographics proved a perfect fit for Netflix’s own audience data.

However, Whitehead was more glib about Netflix using data to extol any facts. “For a company run on data their selective use of it is incredible and they still refuse to release any ratings information for any programs and all they tell us that it’s all brilliant and their audiences are really big,” she said facetiously. “Forget cross measurement we should all use that metric!”

But Whitehead said that data would also be the ideal for TV stations to help combat the threat from video streaming services.

“We’re using data (in the creative process) to look at acquisition, to look at content clusters and what we’ve found is around counter scheduling, we’ve had shows that we thought would have very similar audiences but when we pulled it apart we found data from millions of people, we found that the audiences were actually quite different, and that opens up scheduling options that you may not have thought of.

“There’s also a role for data in supporting the scheduling team in terms of the placement of content on linear and there’s also a role in how you window the content through what’s linear, what’s on demand, what gets premiered and what gets put in a subscription package,” she said.