Here is a prediction for 2020. Losing Friends won’t hurt Netflix at all. We are not talking about corporate friends of course. We are referring to the decades old sit com that caught fire on the streaming service as a much younger audience than had experienced it when it originally aired found it on the streaming service. Countless stories were written in 2019 stating that millennials could or would abandon the service if and when it lost Friends. Similarly people said that they would drop Netflix when it loses The Office. Well, millennials its put up or shut up time. It’s not just on millennials here. It is on the annalists who are always predicting doom and gloom for the most dominant streaming service in the space. The one that started it all in fact. Writing about the decline of Netflix in the tech sector is like writing about the end of the Trump administration in the political press, The expected rise of a maligned sports franchise (this year it was the Cleveland Browns) or reinterpreted Nostradamus predictions for a tabloid. The headlines get clicks and the advertisers are happy. But the reality is that the things people spout off about don’t happen.
Why is Netflix safe? Because like so many, make that too many stories about what people will do in the future, stories about what will happen with Netflix are based on polling. Polling of millennials. Truth be told polls meant to reflect on what a generation of people plan to do over the next year concerning any subject are pretty unreliable. But people love reporting on them. Part of the problem is that the questions are usually too open-ended. Will you or would you consider ……..? (voting for or against this candidate), (looking into solar panels), (cutting cable), (buying a new car), (looking into losing weight). They are all the same kind of questions. There are lots of things that we would consider looking into in the next year. That is not any kind of a commitment at all. It’s like politician talk. How often do you here representatives say psycho babble like
“I will certainly, once I have all the facts, consider this measure as it relates to the values of my district and blah blah blah.”
It’s like a way to end a conversation by discussing a non answer as a measured thought. And with polls about non-essential things like Netflix they invite people to give an opinion of considering a consideration. It’s inviting them to do nothing. Which is probably exactly what will happen. Netflix users are not going to leave in mass. Even the people who list Friends as their favorite show on Netflix are not going to leave the service in mass. Some, because they had it before Friends started getting popular on the streamer, some because they will not take 5 minutes to go online, and do so because it requires them to sign into an account or retrieve a log in etc. And some will not leave because frankly they never had an actual Netflix account in the first place. I’m not saying that Friends viewers are moochers, but it is undeniable that many Netflix viewers are. But when they are polled they are not going to say “oh well I mean once Friends is gone I might not log into my sisters Netflix anymore once Friends is not available”. Everyone reading this right now knows exactly what I mean.
Netflix is not a start-up. It’s not even CBS All-Access. It’s not built around 1 show. Much less a show that hit its prime 20 years ago. As we have maintained, Netflix makes old shows hits, the hits do not make Netflix. Don’t be surprised it Seinfeld sees a big revival on Netflix. But it could be something else. It all depends on what gets recommended. Just ask yourself this question. How many people do you know have said “well if ___________ goes away I might just cancel it” and how many did? I don’t know a soul that has cancelled it yet. As with other statements, I don’t think my experience represents the entire universe of TV viewers. Based on Netflix’s rather consistent growth over time, I would be somewhat surprised though if people have an extremely different experience.