The 21st century has seen an unprecedented rise in the use of streaming services, particularly in comparison to the now old-fashioned cable T.V. Today’s topic- Netflix SWOT Analysis and Competitors.
Netflix, a subscription-based production house and OTT media service (provides content like movies, shows, documentaries, etc. via the internet), has emerged as the indisputable streaming platform mogul, albeit not uncontested. Other streaming giants such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney, etc. have more than covered the gap that once existed between Netflix and cable TV or DVD.
This article will give you a clear analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) posed to Netflix as well as the streaming services that it is competing with.
A Brief History of Netflix
Before diving into the analysis of Netflix, let’s take a brief look at how the company began.
Netflix was founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in California, USA. It began as a website that sent DVDs to people via snail mail, which they could return after having watched the DVD. This continued until 2007, when they launched their video streaming service for the first time and witnessed a boom in user subscriptions, making it the giant that it is today, with over 206 million subscribers from over 190 countries.
Today, a Netflix subscriber can simply open Netflix on almost any device (smartphones, laptops, smart TVs, Playstations, etc.) and watch almost anything they want, anytime, anywhere, as long as they have internet connectivity.
SWOT Analysis of Netflix
- Original Content
- Customer Care
- Ease of Usage
- Disappearing content due to copyright issues
- Internet Requirement
- Lack of the more popular films and shows such as classics
- Increasing inclusivity
- Introduction of more localized, regional content and increase in international reach
- Introducing mobile streaming
- Growing competition
- Carbon Emission
- Original Content:
Besides being a streaming platform for a massive collection of films, TV series, documentaries, etc. Netflix also functions as a production company whose films and shows are named ‘Netflix Originals’. This move has proven to be hugely beneficial for the platform as its original content draws a large customer base. Shows such as Sex Education, Stranger Things, Narcos, BoJack Horseman, Ozark, and many more, gained such massive traction that social media and news sites witness almost consistent reportage hubbub on developments and updates in these shows.
These shows are available exclusively on Netflix and a person would have to subscribe or use their free trial to watch these.
Netflix has several plans with different pricing which makes it easily available to consumers from different economic strata. Starting from just $8.99, a person in the USA can get a Netflix subscription. And even though the premium plan does cost $17.99, the cost of cable TV is much higher.
Along with affordability, the platform’s versatility is a huge bonus for customers. At no extra cost, a user can watch movies or shows on a range of devices, including PlayStation, smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, laptops, etc.
Although the cost of subscriptions of Disney+ or Apple TV is lower, Netflix still emerges as the winner due to its larger variety of content, ease of usage, adaptability, and most importantly, usage on a greater variety of devices.
- Customer Care:
The customer-centric approach followed by Netflix has resulted in a large and loyal customer base. Such an approach increases trust in the company and builds the company’s goodwill.
- Ease of Usage:
Both the Netflix website as well as the app are fairly easy-to-use interfaces. Every component is easily navigable and simple. All the genres are neatly categorized and have an altogether separate section for kids’ content.
The service provides a specifically curated selection of content based on the user’s likes and dislikes.
- Uniqueness- Interactive content+ keeping up with the pandemic:
First, one of Netflix’s main strengths is that it provides the option to download content so that the user can watch it offline.
Second, the platform is free of pestering advertisements.
Third, Netflix was the first platform to have interactive content. Black Mirror, a popular British show, created an episode called ‘Bandersnatch’. In this, the audience got to decide what the character would do. This was pretty groundbreaking in the media world and was only available on Netflix.
Fourth, chrome extensions such as Netflix Party or Teleparty, allowed users to stream a specific show together, with a live text chat, on their own computers from anywhere in the world. This blew up during the pandemic as people could no longer watch movies next to their friends and this was the closest possible alternative.
- Disappearing content due to copyright issues:
Netflix is often criticized for its disappearing content. Since it does not have the proper copyright for many shows, those shows are removed from the platform. There are many shows that Netflix does not own and for which, it is simply given the license, for a specific amount of time. When that time is over, the content is removed from the platform and often taken up by other competing platforms. For example, ‘Gossip Girl’ a long-running and very popular show, left Netflix for the same reason. It was then available on HBO Max after its departure from Netflix. This even prompts users to flock to other streaming services where their favorite shows are available.
- Internet Requirement:
The one major advantage that cable TV has over Netflix and other online streaming services is that it does not require an internet connection and has a much wider reach than Netflix. Although Netflix offers the download option, one still needs the internet to download content. Therefore, the internet requirement does limit Netflix’s reach, keeping it out of remote areas without proper connectivity or fast enough bandwidth.
- Lack of the more popular films, such as classics:
As Netflix has been producing a whole lot of original content, a number of classic films or older films have been removed from its movie catalog. The amount of money going into production simply does not make it feasible enough for Netflix to acquire licensing for classic films, particularly with Netflix’s increasing debt over the years. Netflix has also been blamed for the slow death of classic films by experts. However, Amazon Prime does have a larger number of classics as compared to Netflix.
- Increasing inclusivity and international reach:
The 21st century has witnessed a drastic social change from the structures that were earlier prevalent in society. Stereotypical roles for specific racial or ethnic groups, lack of minority representation, rampant sexism, and overall lack of inclusivity in films and shows are no longer the norm or even accepted. Such content would now face flak from a large number of users. By increasing the representation of minorities and bringing in inclusivity, Netflix can build a bigger and more trusting customer base while remaining socially or politically up to date.
Some of its original shows, such as Never Have I Ever, Kim’s Convenience, and Sex Education, all of which have been massively popular, have seen a lot of praise for their inclusivity of racial and ethnic groups without any apparent underlining of stereotyping or discrimination.
- Introduction of more localized, regional content and increase in international reach:
Netflix can create or add more regional content or create content in more languages, which is relevant to more cultures, to its movie catalog. This can prove to be a good opportunity to increase its international reach and in essence, become a global service.
- Introducing mobile streaming
By introducing a cheaper plan i.e. for mobile streaming, Netflix can increase its user base. It has already done so for its Indian market but introducing this concept to the USA and other countries could prove to be very beneficial for the company.
- Growing competition:
One of the main threats being faced by Netflix is the increasingly cutthroat competition it is facing from the following companies:
- Amazon Prime Video
This streaming service began in 2006, just the year before Netflix switched from DVD to online streaming. Very recently, it just about crossed the 200 million mark of subscribers but is still a few million subscribers short of Netflix. Amazon’s edge over Netflix is localized to three major factors:
Cheaper cost, one can get amazon prime music as well as prime video with just one subscription (so one is getting more services at a lower cost), and Prime Video offers HD viewing without the hefty amount that Netflix requires premium HD plan.
Owned by The Walt Disney Company and Comcast, Hulu is a streaming service that was started in 2007. As of 2021, it has about 41.6 million paying subscribers. Hulu offers a much cheaper basic plan than Netflix and even has the option of live TV, which is something that other streaming services seldom offer. However, every package offered by Hulu has ads, and to remove those, the user has to pay a hefty fee.
Also owned by The Walt Disney Company, Disney+ is one of Netflix’s growing competitors. Until 2019, Disney provided licensing to Netflix for its content until it decided to start its own streaming service.
A Disney plus subscription comes out much cheaper than a Netflix subscription with just about the same services. Unlike other competitors, Disney+ also offers offline viewing, through downloads, just like Netflix.
However, Disney+ is available in much fewer countries than Netflix and isn’t available on as many platforms as Netflix is.
- HBO Max
Both Netflix and HBO Max are the priciest content streaming options available but Netflix offers pricing tiers, whereas HBO Max has a basic minimum cost of about $15 every month, with no pricing options. And even though HBO Max has a higher-quality selection of content, Netflix beats it in the number of titles it has.
A major threat to all paid streaming services is that of piracy. Piracy has been around ever since the services became available. Individuals can (often illegally) download content off the internet for free, while the same would have to be paid for in a streaming service. If piracy becomes more common and rampant, it threatens the need for paid subscriptions of streaming services such as Netflix.
- Carbon Emissions:
People are becoming increasingly climate and sustainability-conscious and beginning to hold big corporations accountable for their contribution to climate change and global warming. Netflix has only recently rolled out a plan to be greener by 2022 but not having reduced its carbon footprint in the past does hurt its image. Besides its brand equity being hurt, many countries are beginning to disallow specific companies from working in their land if their carbon footprint is higher than a certain amount. And although Netflix has a smaller carbon footprint than most big companies, it does need to work towards getting greener and more sustainable soon.
In conclusion, although Netflix has become a household name, other companies are catching up and Netflix might soon need to up its game or tweak it just a tad to remain at the very top of the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is SWOT?
Ans. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Why is Netflix called Netflix?
Ans. In the name ‘Netflix’, Net stands for internet and Flix is an abbreviated version of the word ‘flick’ which means movie.
- What are some other competitors of Netflix?
Ans. Other than the ones mentioned above, Youtube premium, Paramount+, Peacock, CBS, etc.