Red Envelope Madness!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

the Long Tail of Netflix

Chris Anderson discusses a concept he defines as the Long Tail, which is a marketing term describing the phenomenon we're experiencing now, with Netflix. "Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it in service after service, from DVDs at Netflix to music videos on Yahoo! Launch to songs in the iTunes Music Store and Rhapsody. People are going deep into the catalog, down the long, long list of available titles, far past what's available at Blockbuster Video, Tower Records, and Barnes & Noble. And the more they find, the more they like. As they wander further from the beaten path, they discover their taste is not as mainstream as they thought (or as they had been led to believe by marketing, a lack of alternatives, and a hit-driven culture)...

For too long we've been suffering the tyranny of lowest-common-denominator fare, subjected to brain-dead summer blockbusters and manufactured pop. Why? Economics. Many of our assumptions about popular taste are actually artifacts of poor supply-and-demand matching - a market response to inefficient distribution." Read the rest at Wired.com.

Netflix, with it's efficient distribution system, is allowing everyone to have their own virtual video store, stocked with just the movies the fit their peculiar taste. We don't have to fit the mold anymore.

There are any number of equally attractive genres and subgenres neglected by the traditional DVD channels: foreign films, anime, independent movies, British television dramas, old American TV sitcoms. These underserved markets make up a big chunk of Netflix rentals. Bollywood alone accounts for nearly 100,000 rentals each month. The availability of offbeat content drives new customers to Netflix - and anything that cuts the cost of customer acquisition is gold for a subscription business. Thus the company's first lesson: Embrace niches.

Netflix has made a good business out of what's unprofitable fare in movie theaters and video rental shops because it can aggregate dispersed audiences. It doesn't matter if the several thousand people who rent Doctor Who episodes each month are in one city or spread, one per town, across the country - the economics are the same to Netflix. It has, in short, broken the tyranny of physical space. What matters is not where customers are, or even how many of them are seeking a particular title, but only that some number of them exist, anywhere.


2 Comments:

  • At 2/11/2005 5:03 PM, Blogger Luke said…

    This may interest you - Netflix sent me four discs on the 3 disc plan.

     
  • At 2/12/2005 11:10 AM, Blogger Becky said…

    I think it's because it's considered one title, not a series. In the rare case that a title is too long to fit on one disc, they will send you two.

     

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