HBO's new chief Bob Greenblatt says Netflix doesn't have a brand. What a juvenile statement and one that is more fighting words than facts. Not only is Netflix a brand, its multi-generational, it's the brand that has replaced HBO as the "other place to watch."
For starters Netflix knows more about its' audience than HBO does. Netflix has for years been using audience metrix to determine which content it puts on the screen. It is also way ahead of HBO on deployment of compression technology, and has figured out how to best work with the broadband and mobile providers. HBO, because it was always a part of Time-Warner, and now AT&T had to always play nice, to not erode the business of Time-Warner, and not impact it's cable provider base which were also investors. In essence, HBO pre-AT&T acquisition was a political and financial football of the cable industry that delivered amazing content that made people sign up for cable subscriptions.
Netflix changed all that, allowing cord-cutters access to the kind of programming that HBO was known for. But I digress.
To say Netflix doesn't have a brand is so off base one has to understand why a comment like that is made.
- The Spielberg Oscar war with Netflix This is about parity. By picking on Netflix brand (or claiming there isn't one) AT&T is trying to make their competiition look unworthy.
- Market Share-with cord cutting, HBO, who was late to the game with an OTT app, has lost share to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. It's why they now have deals with Amazon to get a "channel slot" for their OTT app.
- Competition for creative content-let's face it, back in the era of The Wire and The Soprano's HBO was where cutting edge writers shopped their works. Shows like "Sex in the City" never would have been network prime time as they were too racy and edgy in their subject matter. Now those types of shows are part of everyday programming but it's been Netflix that got the House of Cards going. Sure Showtime has Ray Donovan and Homeland as well as Billions, but some of the best new mini-series and arc programs like Travelers, The Umbrella Academy, have been on Netflix and Amazon. The Kominsky Method, which starred Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin was another cult-hit that was so much in the Seinfeld or Cheers mold that it could have been a prime time killer. Those programs happen on Netflix because the creative talent puts it there, and because Netflix knows its audiences better than HBO does.
No brand? If that was the case the stars, writers, directors and producers who are creating the content at Netflix wouldn't be there. In the world of words, all Greenblatt did was do nothing more than a "drive by shooting." Fire a few rounds off and see how Netflix reacts. My guess, they'll just put out better content, because at the end of the day, content is king.