Netflix is having a tough old time of it at the moment, facing its first drop in subscribers in over a decade and showing a real fear of commitment when it comes to renewing shows past the two-season mark (by my count, it’s cancelled ten shows so far in 2022, and we’re not even halfway through the year).
Now it seems the company has a ‘new’ idea to address this subscriber slide: live streaming.
Deadline says that the company has confirmed it’s in the “early stages of development” for live broadcast which is, of course, something that has existed on other platforms for an awfully long time. Not least of all “television”, which Netflix has done a very good job of replacing over the course of the last decade.
Still, the appeal to Netflix should be pretty obvious, seeing as sticking a few cameras up at a gig is a hell of a lot cheaper than paying producers, scriptwriters, actors and crew to turn around a ten-episode series that’ll probably be cancelled when the algorithm decides it’s not justified its costs.
Deadline also suggests that it could be useful for that old reality TV staple of voting on what you’re seeing on screen in real time. True, that’s a mechanic that’s been around since Netflix’s ambitions stretched no further than sticking DVDs in the post, but it could still be handy for subscription retention.
At the moment, people stop and start subscriptions as and when they like, safe in the knowledge that Netflix original shows stick around forever. Live TV shows that vanish after they’re broadcast could encourage people to keep their subscriptions active or face a crushing sense of FOMO.
Still, there’s something quite sweet about Netflix looking to mimic aspects of the medium it so effectively sidelined. Maybe company bigwigs will next decide that rabbit-ear antenna and a 9:30pm watershed are due a comeback to help boost subscription numbers, too…