Despite Streaming’s Current Narrative, Recent Events Prove Netflix Maintains Massive Cultural Impact
Despite the doom and gloom that has surrounded Netflix ever since the world’s largest streamer announced that it had lost 200,000 total subscribers during the first quarter of this year, it would make sense for folks to assume that the service’s influence is past its expiration date and that the projected dip of an additional 2 million subscribers in Q2 means that its relevance in popular culture has essentially ended. That would be a foolish assumption.
While the company is reevaluating how it approaches content creation and laying off hundreds of employees, Netflix still dwarfs the competition with a more than 46 million-subscriber advantage over second-place Prime Video — and those numbers are fuzzy, considering the Amazon streamer comes as part of a Prime membership.
Additionally, while satisfaction in the service has been declining, Netflix still ranks as the top “must-keep” platform amongst consumers, thanks in part to its sheer size and staying power.
But beyond surveys, earnings reports, and subscriber totals, there have been two very real-world examples of just how important Netflix remains in the larger entertainment ecosystem in the past few weeks. On the business side of the equation, the streaming giant reportedly entered into the bidding for live sports for the first time ever as it attempted to land the broadcast rights to Formula 1 racing against Amazon, Comcast, and Disney. While ESPN eventually won the right to retain the racing series, it came at a steep cost.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
Drivers, managers and team owners live life in the fast lane — both on and off the track — during one cutthroat season of Formula 1 racing.
For its last rights deal with F1, Disney paid $5 million per year for three years from 2020 through 2022. Beginning in 2023, the worldwide leader in sports will reportedly pay between $75-$90 million annually on another three-year package. While all live sports rights are seeing substantial increases, an astronomical rise of 15 to 18 times in just three years is about far more than just inflation.
Instead, the incredible rise in rights fees — and F1’s viewership numbers — is directly related to the popularity of Netflix’s docuseries on the racing circuit “Drive to Survive,” which premiered on the service in 2019. The fourth season of the series debuted in March and racked up 28 million hours of viewing time in its first five days on the service. While Netflix doesn’t reveal exact viewership data, the numbers are obviously high enough for the streamer to have renewed the show for two additional seasons and to venture into potentially adding live sports, despite being vocally against it for years.
On the more traditional content side of this discussion, if you were ever questioning whether or not Netflix still had a foothold in the larger cultural zeitgeist, look no further than “Stranger Things” Season 4. The sci-fi series received massive critical and audience acclaim for its latest season, but that was to be expected from one of the most popular shows in the world finally returning after a three-year, pandemic-created hiatus.
However, what was not expected is how a climactic episode from the season’s first volume would prove to have an oversized influence on the current state of popular music. When English singer/songwriter Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” factored heavily into a pivotal scene (no spoilers) of the 1986-set season, the response was massive. The attention shot the song up to the top of the streaming songs charts passing Future and Drake, Harry Styles, Coldplay, Bad Bunny, and more. In the week ending on June 16, 2022, the track had over 31 million streams, a 16,867% increase from before the “Stranger Things” episode dropped.
When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one strange little girl.
“Running Up That Hill” is currently in its third week as the top song on the U.K. singles chart and has become Bush’s first Top 5 hit in the United States. The songs’ resurgence into the popular consciousness has reportedly brought a pretty nice payday to the singer as well. Since she owns the copyrights to all of her songs, Bush is expected to pocket approximately 80% of the reported $2.3 million in streaming royalties thus far.
While Netflix is clearly not in the same business position that it was even one or two years ago, its decade-head start in the streaming world has afforded it a substantial amount of cultural cache, even if the popular narrative is telling you otherwise. While there is no doubt that the streaming service needs to continue to adapt how it operates in the evolving entertainment landscape, Netflix certainly still has the ability to create hits and make money — even if it’s for other people and companies.
Netflix is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 3,000+ movies, 2,000+ TV Shows, and Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Crown, Tiger King, and Bridgerton. They are constantly adding new shows and movies. Some of their Academy Award-winning exclusives include Roma, Marriage Story, Mank, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Netflix offers four plans — on 1 device in SD with their “Basic with Ads” ($6.99) plan, on 1 device in SD with their “Basic” ($9.99) plan, on 2 devices in HD with their “Standard” ($15.49) plan, and 4 devices in up to 4K on their “Premium” ($19.99) plan.
Netflix spends more money on content than any other streaming service meaning that you get more value for the monthly fee.