There are maybe ten to twenty platforms that matter – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkdin, iTunes, Spotify, certain podcasts, YouTube, Amazon, etc. and Netflix.
Of those, most have an algorithmic feed or a feed determined by who you follow. My Facebook feed does not look like your Facebook feed. My twitter follows are different than yours.
Except for Netflix. Netflix is unique, and the most powerful platform platform in the world for five reasons.
Curated feed. Netflix is the only major platform with a curated feed – meaning that although Netflix suggests a movie based on what you just watched, it isn’t an open network. Any artist can list their song on iTunes, and any merchant can sell their product on Amazon, but Netflix only buys certain movies. Netflix’s selection is limited when you compare it to the number of users.
Reach. That brings us to the second power of Netflix – their disproportionate reach. Netflix streaming has over 137 million subscribers. To put this in perspective, Twitter has 326 million users. Getting a movie on Netflix is be like getting a tweet in front of over a third of Twitter users. Except, a tweet is 140 characters, and a movie is two hours.
Depth. The third power of Netflix is depth. A video on YouTube will come and go. Facebook content is constantly updated. However, a movie will stay on Netflix for 1-2 years. Whereas most social media content is moving towards short form – like 60 second Instagram videos – Netflix content is moving towards the opposite direction – 10-hour seasons of deep story telling. With Netflix, you can do a six part documentary series that last six hours.
Attention. Netflix users are more likely to watch on a large screen with undivided attention, than other platforms where the user is likely to have multi-tasking or be watching on a palm-sized phone screen with the sound off. If you want to make a complex argument or deep exploration of a topic, you couldn’t ask for better than Netflix. There is no contest between the persuasive power of a one minute video you flip past on your phone, and getting someone’s undivided attention for two hours.
Audience. Lastly, Netflix targets an audience pre-disposed to like your film. The more people that watch the movie, the more it is recommended. Those recommendations comes from data from previous user behavior. It may sound obvious, but people who watch documentaries on Netflix are more likely to want to watch a new documentary on Netflix. With Netflix, you’re reaching an audience that is selected to be interested in what you have to offer.
Given all this is it any wonder that my film which did well on tour, at festivals, and on video, is suddenly experiencing a massive wave of attention on Netflix?
Since our Netflix release, it has been hard to keep up with the number of comments and tweets about the film I’ve seen. Not only are people watching the film, but they are talking about it on other social media platforms in record numbers. Because we are a hit on one platform, we are becoming a topic of conversation on others.
For years, activists on the circumcision issue have been trying to reach the tipping point, a point at which a critical mass of the population cares enough about circumcision to change mainstream opinion. Could this be the start of that moment?
P.S. My movie is on Netflix now. Watch here.