Netflix is a sanctuary. But for how long?
In Sahil Patel’s Digiday Video Briefing this week, Sahil contends “don’t count Netflix out in an area it has largely ignored so far: news.”
I like where Sahil’s head is at, and he points to several indicators Netflix is pursuing more daily/weekly current affairs programming. For example, Netflix bought an explainer news show from Vox Entertainment (weekly, 50 episodes), and commissioned 32 episodes of a new weekly politics and comedy show from “The Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj.
However, the news focus isn’t sitting well with me. News? Really. This could be dangerous for Netflix long-term. The video streaming pioneer differentiates itself so well from traditional networks in that is offers an escape from the often far too negative 24/7 news cycle.
I decided to test my gut on someone I share a brain (and DNA) with, my brother Kiel Servideo, a writer/novelist who among other roles in Hollywood, most recently served as the Assistant to Shawn Levy at 21 Laps Entertainment. (Fun fact: following the success of Stranger Things, which Levy produced, he signed what sources say is a four-year, seven-figure pact with Netflix. He’s legit. Keep an eye on anything he touches.)
I surely am biased, but Kiel is a true tastemaker and someone’s opinion I rely on to inform my position on films, TV shows, streaming platform moves and the like. So, I dropped Kiel a quick line on the news and here’s what I got, and I think you’ll dig it:
I agree that it’s a logical step, but from my standpoint as a regular Netflix consumer I hesitate to consider it the right move. The success of weekly “news” programs like Full Frontal and Last Week Tonight shows there is a thirst for informative but entertaining programs that allow consumers to digest the current political climate with a heavy dose of laughter. Something from Hasan Minhaj would be similar, I imagine. I’m interested in seeing what other news will be added to the platform. It would be a mistake, in my opinion, for Netflix to attempt to deliver news in a daily, serious fashion; not that such a dose of information isn’t important to the republic, but Netflix is a particularly special place at the moment where its audience can hide from a troubling reality. Whether you’re a news junkie or block out the bulk of garbage emanating from the White House, the Netflix platform is a brief escape from everything; watch another episode of that show you’ve been binging or seek out a movie you missed while it was in theaters, but don’t worry about reminders about the state of things ruining your evening. -Kiel Servideo
Thanks for the food for thought, Kiel. I look forward to future industry musing from you.
And Netflix, please don’t mess with our sanctuary.