suddenly everybody’s a creator…

What happened to the good ole days when everybody was simply a critic? It is a tradition as old as time: giving your opinion, whether or not anybody asked for it. Places like yelp, trip advisor, and especially the review/comment section of any website, are magical places where regular people can scream from the metaphorical mountain tops of the interwebs about how they feel on just about anything. Movies, books, TV, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, parking lots, ballpoint pens, toaster ovens, shall I go on? Literally nothing is safe anymore, not even ourselves. Our own social media accounts are where people go to review us.

  • Jackie Murphy:
  • 115 Customer Reviews
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars
  • Top Reviews:
  • User: Mom
  • Stars: ***
  • Comment: That skirt is a little short!! Don’t forget to call your grandmother and wish her a happy birthday!! xoxo Mom

In all seriousness, I think the ability for people to give their opinions is incredibly useful. These days I don’t commit to anything without first checking the reviews. If I’m going to see a movie, picking a restaurant, and especially if I am buying anything online, I check the reviews. And it is not unusual for me to change my original plan after reading something good or bad from a stranger online. Obviously there are downsides to this, people can be mean, biased, and just plain wrong when giving their opinion online. Nevertheless, usually it’s easy to spot the one bitter customer who left a flaming review because their steak came medium instead of medium well. The average person takes everything with a grain of salt. But let’s be honest this is old news, people have been sharing and trusting opinions since websites gave us the option.

So why then did I spend the first 300 words of my blog framing this issue when I really want to talk about something else…?

I’m not really sure…it took longer than planned and I got a little too heated.

BUT—what I really want to address is the switch from critics to creators.

I want to talk about when suddenly everyone was so sure of their opinions that they said screw it I’ll do it myself.

I’m talking about Instagram models, influencers, food and beauty blogs, YouTube comedians, SoundCloud rappers, Etsy designers, podcasters, and trust me I could go on.

Suddenly any person with an iPhone can find celebrity on the internet. This is something I want to explore over the course of the semester. But let’s start at the beginning. There is always someone to blame, a first mover, someone who did not stay in their lane and now Sarah from Delaware thinks that if she buys an Urban Decay palette and some NARS foundation she can make a career out of it. Seriously no shade to Sarah or Delaware, you’re doing great sweetie, but I digress. There is probably someway to make this Amazon or Facebook’s fault, but this is my blog and I’m blaming Netflix.

Yep that’s right. Netflix started making original content, and now everybody else thinks they can too.

In February, 2013 (happy anniversary) Netflix released its first original content: House of Cards. Then came Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, and and then it’s a blur. Netflix started releasing so many shows, movies, and specials customers felt overwhelmed. It’s hard to think back to before there was original content. Now Netflix floods its users with so many options, and honestly it does not even matter if they are good or not. What works, works, and they push it. What doesn’t pan out, they cancel, and no one is even sad because barely anyone has seen it.

Also a genius move by Netflix is this almost retroactive advertising. Netflix is calculated about how they advertise. If you’ve notice Netflix only advertises shows and movies that are either returning for a second season/sequel, or something they think is really going to be a hit. I saw plenty of promotion for movies such as The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before prior to their releases. However, with other series/movies it is almost as if they wait for a positive response from the internet, and then promote more heavily. Realistically though, they do not have to do much advertising, everyone else does it for them because now people are anticipating Netflix content. I personally go out of my way to check what is going to be uploaded each month and plan to watch it. Also Twitter and Instagram do a great job of telling you what’s new on Netflix and whether it’s worth watching. Recently I watched one of their newest series Sex Education. It’s a quirky teen drama, and it has been available for less than a month, and is on its way to 40 million views in its first four weeks. And that is nothing compared to the 80 million people that watched Bird Box in the same amount of time.  

The most up to date figure I could find stated that Netflix planned to have 1000 originals on its platform by the end of 2018. In 2018 alone the budget for originals was $8 billion. I think their greatest success is the breath of content, everything from horror to sci-fi (the Haunting of Hill House), to comedy specials (Ellen DeGeneres Relatable) and children’s show (Motown Magic), and of course plenty of romantic comedies (too many to pick). If I want to watch something, the first place I check is Netflix. I cannot remember the last time I started a series on cable television. And why would I, when I can watch a Netflix original at my own leisure? I don’t have to tune into channel 66 at 8pm every Tuesday for 15 weeks. I could sit down one weekend and watch every episode.

Don’t get me wrong Netflix has had some misses, and you don’t just wake up one day and decide to become 20th Century Fox, and it certainly doesn’t come cheap. But it’s working for Netflix. You basically have to be the Super Bowl or The Bachelor to make people chose live television over streaming. And so the rest followed. Hulu, Amazon, and even YouTube have all taken a crack at original content. Will they have the same success as Netflix?

I’m hoping to make this into a series, and discuss in later blogs and potentially my project, other “creators” I alluded to above. Let me know if you enjoyed this, and what I should write about next! Also I promise the next blog won’t be as scattered!

https://qz.com/1277800/netflix-will-hit-1000-originals-this-year/

https://slate.com/culture/2019/01/netflix-ratings-you-sex-education-secret-hits.html

11 comments

  1. dilillomelissa · · Reply

    Hi Jaclin,
    First off, I think that “creators” as a series blog topic is incredibly interesting. There are so many ways to take this idea! As far the television space goes, you hit the nail on the head in that the only two shows I watch live are literally the Super Bowl and the Bachelor! Netflix has made it so convenient and so enticing that I constantly crave what’s next. Because of Netflix in the past year especially, I’ve become impatient on what series is next and finish each one so quickly. I never used to watch this much tv before! You’re right in that Netflix’s business model is working for them incredibly well right now. Other companies such as Hulu will have to become more of a competitor, if you will. The rate at which Netflix produces new series is currently unmatched. Netflix has set the bar so high at this point they also need to ensure they continue production at the rate they are going with such high demand. Looking forward to reading more of your content!

  2. Hey Jaclin!

    I loved the topic of how we have gone from being critics to creators and I definitely would love to hear more in the future about how technology has empowered the “individual” marking a shift from the corporations being the creators. But, I agree from the corporate standpoint Netflix has made a killing with its original content, and I’m sure a lot of this is because of the analytics their platform generate. I’m sure Netflix has to be working on some sort of formula for the perfect movie/tv show and their stabs at original content are their first iterations of products from that formula. I find this comparison similar to how Amazon Marketplace was originally just a platform connecting buyers to 3rd party sellers, however Amazon harvest great power from the data the gather at each transaction and eventually invest in manufacturing some products of their own to sell to capture an even larger margin of the transaction. Amazon Basics is the brand Amazon launched to sell their own version of high selling products with sufficient profit margins, think HDMI cables, usb wall chargers etc. So yes I agree Netflix’s creation of its own content has made them standout from the pack with a uniqueness element, however, I believe the true power of Netflix, Amazon, and any other online service lies within the data, and the analytics derived from that data.

    1. Sorry about the grammar. Got really into my reply and forgot to proof read :(

  3. Awesome work Jaclin!

    I really enjoy the series Idea. It’s true, content creation in all forms has become so commonplace today. While this means that we get inundated with self-glorified people who think they are the gift to the world, It also gives the opportunity for the the “little guy” who doesn’t have the infrastructure to contend with established industries. These platforms and the internet age in general gives so many people to gain an audience with literally the whole world. There are a lot of positives and negatives to these “creators” so I think taking a look at both the positive and negative effects will be really interesting for a series!

    Netflix certainly was the first to show that there’s a market for movies and tv coming from non-traditional sources (big production companies, studios, etc.) As far as I’m concerned, Netflix nailed their content production strategy. With the introduction of original content, they started throwing things at the wall to see what would stick. They got it very right on some and missed the mark on others, but the beauty of the subscription model is it doesn’t matter. Their strength comes in continually making new material, and personally that’s all I want. I pay one flat fee and they keep providing great entertainment, all while giving smaller directors/producers a chance to get their work seen. I’m loving it, and I can’t wait to see these other big players jump into original content creation.

  4. LOVE the idea of making this into a series. In just this post alone I think you touched on so many directions you could take this, and it is extremely relevant. I think the general idea of “everyone being a creator” definitely has its pros and cons. On one hand, we get the people who’s fame (and their egos) become rapidly inflated for perhaps not the best reasons. On the other side, though, so many of these platforms give power to so many people who wouldn’t have had the resources to make themselves seen in the world of even 20 (or less) years ago.

    I think it’s interesting to think about how this phenomenon has made us increasingly impatient in even other aspects of our lives. I was reading a book series recently, and when I got to the end of the book I realized that the next book wasn’t released yet, and probably wouldn’t be for well over a year. I found myself being irrationally angry at this, I think largely because I am so used to have the next episode, the next season, etc. at my fingertips, and I forget that it often takes a long time to create new content. Netflix, and other platforms like it, have made us spoiled, but I’m really not complaining about it.

  5. Interesting topic. This reminds me of an SNL skit I saw recently that seemed to mock the massive amounts of cash Netlfix is pouring into creating their own content. I also think it’s really interesting that a sort of price war between Hulu and Netflix has emerged this past year. As Netflix hiked its subscription prices up to $13/month for the most popular plan, Hulu dropped theirs to only $5.99/month. While the Hulu subscription is obviously the more wallet-friendly choice between the two streaming services, people are willing to pay much more for Netflix due to its exclusive content that can’t be found anywhere else.

    SNL skit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqRQ5Y6OYi4 (highly recommend watching)

  6. Hi! Loved the intro to your blog haha, I revolve a lot of purchasing decisions based on good or bad reviews, but I digress.

    To your point, I think Netflix is at the point where many creators are switching platforms to showcase their content through them. I recently heard Shonda Rhimes talk about the fact that she felt Netflix offered her the ability to be as creative as she wants being a huge determinant to her leaving ABC. I think the company is doing great things in terms of running the best algorithms they can to suggest the most relevant content to the viewers, but no matter what they will never be able to please the entire user base. I’ve heard people say, “Why isn’t this show on Netflix” or “How come I can watch this on Hulu and not Netflix” and really it comes down to people not realizing that Netflix is very specific in their strategy to promote original content and partnerships with movies and shows that they believe in. If Netflix hosted the shows that you see on a daily basis on T.V., I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t feel like Netflix anymore. I too have thought the same thing in the past and realized that this was part of their strategy all along; to set themselves apart by creating original content and garner interest by the masses. From Bandersnatch to House of Cards, Netflix has done every well for themselves and despite the price hikes, I think their customer base will continue to grow.

  7. You’re totally right about the evolving trend of critics to creators. With all the technology and tools available to us today, it’s become so easy to go ahead and just do it ourselves, whatever it may be. Netflix serves as a prime example. Who even needs cable anymore? I’ve recently heard that Netflix is raising its price again to $15.99, and as much as that pains me (and my wallet), I don’t think I’d be able to give it up. If I did, I would be so out of the loop as so many small talk conversations nowadays all revolve around some sort of Netflix show or newly released film. It reminds me of when Damian from Mean Girls goes, “You can’t. It’s social suicide!” I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but I would really be missing out.

  8. Interesting that we talked about it today in class; Netflix did this out of self-preservation and now it’s probably one of their biggest strengths. I think this definitely adds a new dynamic to their network effect. Top talent will want to work with Netflix because of the massive audience, meaning top-notch content, which leads more people to watch Netflix.

  9. Great post! It’s interesting to think back on the dawn of Netflix and how they are constantly adapting to changing technology and anticipating problems before they become bottom-line-threatening, capital-P Problems. Netflix was definitely an early mover in its first go-around. It started with capitalizing on the subscription model, which allows for a pretty reliable, sticky revenue stream. They’ve had such success with this model that nowadays everything is a subscription and it’s kind of infuriating. It makes sense with services like Netflix which are constantly putting out new content, but now companies are making customers sign on to a subscription for razors and Adobe Creative Cloud and snack kits. It’s bizarre.

    At first it seemed like a cool concept. And it was (and still is)! It makes sense for Netflix and its consumers. I remember when my brother told me about this super cool company, “Netflix”, that allowed him to rent a number of his favorite video games through the mail in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Then all of a sudden Netflix realized it didn’t have to buy a bunch of CDs and DVDs for things and spend money shipping them out to its customers in the mail, and they started streaming. This was back in 2007. It used this opportunity to entirely phase out of its physical mailing business, and it absolutely blew up. By about 2012, nearly everyone had access to a Netflix account. Some people had their own, and some people used their ex-boyfriend’s cousin’s dog’s trainer’s Netflix account. It didn’t matter, as long as you could binge.

    Then, as you said, Netflix started creating its own content. And frankly, it’s good content. They were an early mover here, too, creating content and maintaining a subscription model with both this content and older, pre-established content that once aired weekly on networks like CBS. And now everyone else is playing catch-up. Disney is starting its own streaming service, Disney+, in late 2019, TWELVE YEARS(!) after Netflix started streaming. There are also streaming services like CBS All-Access, ESPN+, NBCUniversal, Hulu, and more. Cable is dying, and this seems to be the direction entertainment is headed in. In order to beat Netflix, these platforms will have to think a step ahead of a company that has historically maintained a strong lead over its competitors. To them I say good luck, but my money’s on Netflix (and Hulu, because the Handmaid’s Tale is just too good to pass up).

  10. Interesting topics you covered here… stranger danger turned into our most trusted sources, who decides who gets to be a creator, and Netflix with original content. Personally, I think each deserve their own blog post and you could tell that you felt passionately about each.
    I am of the mindset that facebook, yelp, etc… are trying to create a community based on reviews that in most cases we can trust. In a community everyone is supporting the common good and while some participate more than other to earn an Elite title, no one is trying to be a star. An influencer on the other hand is an individual who is looking to build a following but not necessarily a community and their value is determined by their viewers. This idea is much more about electing a leader to follow and not a community.
    Finally, Netflix has created a business based on customer loyalty. I think the best thing about Netflix is that it is tailored to the individual. So while I may get a recommendation from a friend the actual % recommended is determined by what I myself have watched an enjoyed so far. No one else controls my que or recommendations.

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