Little Steven Looks to Put Netflix on E(asy) Street in Mob Comedy

Discussion
Jan 04, 2012
George Anderson

Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band and "Sopranos" fame is at the center of Netflix’s strategy to regain its edge in the streaming video and DVD rental business.

Mr. Van Zandt will star in the first original series, "Lilyhammer", produced by Netflix and available only to subscribers of the site. It is about an East Coast mobster who turns state evidence and is forced to go into the witness protection program in Norway.

"It’s a very quirky, funny, serious show that I think people are really going to love," Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix told TheWrap. "It’s a really fun thing to watch, because it is a really familiar character in a totally unfamiliar place. It’s ‘Northern Exposure’ meets ‘Sopranos.’"

Netflix has seen a drop off in its subscriber base in the past year as it has tinkered with higher prices and changes in its subscription options. The company made the decision to move into original programming to give it an edge over other services as well as a hedge against companies such as HBO, should they decide to get into the business.

Interestingly, Netflix intends to offer all eight episodes of the one-hour show simultaneously.

"If you love the first episode, there is no need to wait until next week, or to set a DVR, to catch the next one," said Mr. Sarandos in a statement.

According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 60 percent of the content viewed on Netflix’s streaming service is television shows.

Discussion Questions: Is original programming the future of movie and television show rentals? Will Netflix regain some of its lost momentum with the debut of “Lilyhammer”?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Little Steven Looks to Put Netflix on E(asy) Street in Mob Comedy"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 4 months ago

We’ve seen this movie before. A company’s performance drops and, instead of understanding and addressing what’s wrong with the core business, enters into a whole new business which they have no experience in, and lots of competition for. Good luck.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Netflix may find an audience for its original content, but it will not be enough to heal its self-inflicted wounds and reverse the direction of its business. Too many other players are getting into streaming, including the major studios and Amazon. Apple TV and Google also want a share of what people are watching on TV. In the end, Netflix will have been brought down by its own hubris.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

“You know how much you hated us for raising fees 40% and splitting our company into two and all that? We heard you! We’ve come out with a comedy you can only get on our service featuring a guy you might remember from the Sopranos!”

Really? Seems more like an unreality show….

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Finally, Netflix is making some sense. Instead of trying to force subscribers into the streaming business, they are offering value which no one else can. They are building competitive advantage versus a myriad of streaming competitors that today offer exactly the same thing. With this and hopefully other well done shows, Netflix will be able to offer not only everything else that the competition offers but something more at no extra cost. All of a sudden, it makes the subscriber model work again.

The cable channels have made this work. There is no reason why Netflix cannot. Netflix streaming is no different than DVRing from cable. The subscription model is no different than HBO.

The ability to deliver engaging (not necessarily defined as good) entertainment, on an unscheduled basis is where the future is.

David Zahn
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

It is all about content and differentiation. If it is ONLY available to subscribers and it is worth seeing (which means the “buzz” has to be positive in social media, since standard commercials and advertising won’t reach a large segment of the population), then it has a chance.

It is a hard road to travel given the generally negative feeling the company has — but if done well, it could happen. If not, “fugetaboutit.”

Tina Lahti
Guest
Tina Lahti
9 years 4 months ago

Netflix has noticeably enriched its streaming content, especially in TV (or shall I say episodic) series. Their streaming tool is virtually flawless. With my wireless Smart TV and my iPhone 4S I can watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it, commercial free. Just as DVRs made appointment TV unacceptable for many viewers, Netflix streaming and DVD TV episodes have made waiting for the next episode unacceptable. Many viewers will now wait a year after a broadcast TV season to watch a show so that they have access to the complete season and can watch it at their own pace. Combine these new viewing patterns with the fact that the best content in recent years has been on basic cable and you might see that Netflix is actually on to something. If AMC can give me Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Mad Men for $0.50 per subscriber, I look forward to seeing what Netflix can do with $8.00.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

We keep hearing content is king. Everyone else is just a provider, be it television, movie theaters, etc. To date, the only provider who has created solid content is Home Box Office. I always wondered why they decided to create content; were they running out of decent movies to broadcast? The future is clear that content can be viewed on a cell phone, tablet, computer, and television, with each channel trying to increase content and reduce delivery cost. If Netflix can create content people want to see, they will succeed. Otherwise, it will be more to go into the heap.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

It’s a long and potentially costly road to creating successful content. And it just doesn’t seem aligned to Netflix’s competency, especially in a world where streamed content competition is increasing dramatically. So, no, this isn’t the answer.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
9 years 4 months ago

The move by Netflix makes sense as long as the content they create is well received by consumers. Why is HBO any different that Netflix? Like Netflix, HBO offers movies that have already run in theaters. What was game changing for HBO was the creation of its own series. Needless to say some of the original series were a bit raw, but over time they became a serious threat to other media options. If you want to watch Entourage, Hung, Boardwalk Empire and Deadwood to name a few, you need to pay for HBO. As an added bonus you also get exposure to movies that were in the theater.

I am sure this is the first of many original series by Netflix.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Price, price, price, price. Netflix is ignoring the reasons for their drop off in sales (the article even mentions this) and the key for their success. Netflix wasn’t successful or didn’t build upon success because of a show, it was because they can offer online convenience of streaming content at a great price. Now they have ignored their price value proposal and are suffering. Bring back great pricing and watch their model grow again!

Mark Price
Guest
Mark Price
9 years 4 months ago

Original programming is not a silver bullet for Netflix; rather the silver bullet is customer-centricity and responsiveness. The loss of customers due to their business model “debacle,” where they made several announcements on changes to their business model and then had to retract their position, cost them over 500K customers, who lost trust and left. Rebuilding trust is a slow process that can be driven by improvements in customer experience and also somewhat by product development as well.

Note that the wording was “somewhat.” Original programming will help to retain current customers, but if the product is not breakthrough, acquisition will not respond. Also, even if the product is breakthrough, there is that pesky trust issue as well.

Product is not the key, trust is.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much of an image boost will Netflix get from Lilyhammer?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...