It’s a question that has been posed ever since Netflix started producing original content: will streaming services ever supplant traditional television networks? The success of Netflix in creating numerous series across varying genres has only perpetuated this idea, leading many to believe that some sort of revolution is upon us in which people will forgo their television sets altogether. As services like Netflix and Hulu become more and more prominent, the evidence for this potential upheaval certainly seems solid; however, the higher ups at NBC don’t seem particularly worried.
Deadline reports that earlier this week at TCA, NBC President of Research & Development Alan Wurtzel explained that NBC has crunched the numbers, and they don’t fear being overtaken by streaming services anytime soon:
Their model is for you to write a check one a month. Some shows have a narrow audience, but they don’t care as long as there are enough people coming back next month.
Alan Wurtzel made a point to emphasize that Netflix and traditional television operate under different business models, and as such maintain a certain degree of distance from one another. Television casts a wide audience net, while the popular streaming service produces niche content that is released all at once. This appeals to a very vocal, but ultimately smaller fan base. Despite the critical acclaim that many Netflix programs receive, they don’t actually garner the kind of viewership that could ever compete with traditional television. When Netflix shows hit the web, they experience an immediate spike in viewership that peters out quickly as weeks go on, whereas the serialized programming produced by a network such as NBC experiences much less dramatic fluxtuations in viewership over time.
Shows like Jessica Jones, Masters of None, and Narcos release to immense fanfare, but ultimately they typically don’t exceed much higher than 5 million viewers. These surely are commendable numbers, but still much lower than primetime network television garners. By contrast, shows like Blind Spot draw in considerably higher numbers – particularly with the advent of DVR systems. It seems that while Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube have become incredibly viable options, people still revert back to their traditional TV watching habits with little deviation from that pattern.
It looks as though traditional television isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We can’t say we’re disappointed; we love Netflix and the content it produces, but we still also love tuning in to our favorite network shows week after week. All that being said, no one knows what the future holds. In this era of constant technological evolution and innovation, the replacement for television and Netflix could be right around the corner.