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Big Revolution - Netflix, the BBC, and the battle for talent

Welcome to Friday's newsletter. There's plenty to tell you about today, so let's get cracking... – Ma
March 8 · Issue #366 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s newsletter. There’s plenty to tell you about today, so let’s get cracking…
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Airbnb is acquiring HotelTonight. This is a good move – they get the business of people like me who really don’t like staying in strangers’ houses.
  • Facebook has identified and removed a network of accounts and pages that spread ‘fake news’ in the UK. The accounts focused on spreading messages both for and against the far-right. This tactic is generally designed to encourage division and conflict in a target community. Nation states like Russia are often held responsible, but unusually, these posts were coming from within the UK.
  • Meanwhile Facebook is taking down anti-vaccination content in the USA. Misinformation about vaccines has been blamed for a rise in cases of diseases like measles.
The big thought
Netflix's The Crown
Netflix, the BBC, and the battle for talent
The Guardian had a fun story yesterday about the BBC trash-talking Netflix:
“The BBC director general, Tony Hall, has mocked the size of Netflix’s viewing figures, claiming only seven million Britons watched The Crown despite the enormous media buzz around the big-budget show.
"The BBC boss said high-profile dramas such as Luther and Bodyguard reached larger audiences with a smaller budget on the public broadcaster than expensive Netflix shows.”
“I mentioned the Bodyguard finale reaching 17 million viewers,” he told a media conference in London. “That was in one month. Our data suggests The Crown reached seven million users in 17 months.”
Even if the BBC’s research is accurate, I’m sure Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is little more than lightly amused by Hall’s comments.
Viewing figures don’t matter a massive amount to Netflix, and perhaps one reason why they don’t publish them is that to compare them to broadcast television is hugely misleading.
Broadcast TV generally needs big numbers to attract advertisers. The BBC needs big numbers to help justify the licence fee British people pay to fund its service.
What Netflix ultimately cares about is receiving as many subscription payments as possible per month. And people subscribe to Netflix for all sorts of reasons. Maybe it’s one particular drama or comedy, maybe it’s the original animation, maybe it’s the shows from around the world, maybe it’s the classic TV (from companies like… the BBC).
What big-budget shows like The Crown do, beyond giving subscribers something to watch, is frame Netflix as a quality brand – one that attracts big names, big shows, and gets showered with glowing reviews and awards. Netflix really wants to win Oscars for the same reason.
These big-name shows only need to do well enough to justify their cost. That might be through their viewing figures, but it similarly might be in their ability to attract a certain kind of audience to pay up, but perhaps more importantly, they help attract one of the most limited resources faced by Netflix and all of its rivals – talent.
There are only a limited number of the best actors, writers, and directors out there. And while money is one motivating factor for signing up with a company like Netflix, knowing they’ll be seen in the right places is another, and being allowed to just get on with creating the best show or movie they can is another.
If the Netflix brand, and its treatment of talent is seen positively enough, talent will flock there, and subscriptions will grow.
So when the BBC trash-talks Netflix, part of what is going on is a battle for the best talent because in the end, that’s what’s going to keep you coming back for more. Numbers aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be.
The big online class
Building strong, consistent messaging for startups Building strong, consistent messaging for startups
At Big Revolution we’re holding our first ever online class for startups later this month. It’s based on the work I do with tech companies, and contains real, actionable ways to improve your messaging, with examples from some of the best tech companies out there (and maybe some of the worst, too).
Click through for details and share it with the tech entrepreneur in your life.
One big read
Zuckerberg’s So-Called Shift Toward Privacy Zuckerberg’s So-Called Shift Toward Privacy
It’s always worth reading Zeynep Tufekci’s views on privacy issues. Here she takes on Facebook’s big news this week. “The plan, in effect, is to entrench Facebook’s interests while sidestepping all the important issues.”
That’s all for today...
See you in your inbox tomorrow for your weekend big reads.
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