What Digital Publishing Can Learn from the Reel World



In 2016, video has become the norm. It inhabits the new media space more than any other medium. While audio podcasting and audiobooks are growing, video has slowly taken centre stage in the publishing world. More publishers have started embracing the new model. But the question does arise as to how publishing will grow with this new medium? The answer lies in the entertainment world which has undergone numerous changes over the last 50 years.

For Digital Publishing, It has to learn and adapt with technology in order to survive. Television has started to learn with the arrival of Netflix. Netflix is the epitome of Digital media and entertainment combined. It has changed the way consumers ingest their entertainment products and in the process, keeps trying to improve and find new ways to keep their consumers engaged.

Netflix started as a rental outfit in the United States that would provide DVDs in the mail with a very important feature. No Late Fees (NLF) was a big part of the marketing ploy, which worked in the company’s favor. In the United States, rental stores like Blockbuster charged late fees for every video/DVD that was late by over 2 days. On average, the late charge per day would be around $4.29 on top of initial rental of $2.50. Netflix’s business model changed all of that, with people being able to subscribe for a nominal fee every month. This took away the concept of NLF as more people subscribed to this concept. This proved to be a game changer as rental stores closed and went out of business.

Netflix grew from strength to strength adding a streaming feature in 2010. Now, users could really take advantage of digital media and entertainment services. They could now rent a physical DVD or stream directly from their laptop. With Smart TVs becoming commonplace, internet technology complemented the platform. Now, another medium was under threat and that was the broadcasting landscape. In Feb 2013, House of Cards became a worldwide hit and introduced a new model of television programming called “Binge Watching.” While television networks would present episodes in a weekly format and have commercial breaks, Netflix would present all episodes at once. Viewers could now watch it in a single weekend. Gaming has also used the same rental model to great returns and can now directly beam their games into laptops or gaming platforms.

So what can the publishing industry learn from all of this?

  1. Take more risks and adapt content to new platforms
  2. Invest in new digital platforms
  3. More creative content
  4. Coming up with new distribution models
  5. STM, Scholarly, Trade, Education and Legal segments could more app driven
  6. Closer relationship between content creators as well as publishers
  7. Brand building
  8. Venturing into Virtual Reality

As technology changes, so does everything with it. Amazon, HBO Go and Hulu have all learnt from Netflix’s success and are gaining traction with their streaming platforms. It should be noted that these streaming video platforms are competition for digital publishers. People would rather watch than read as it’s easier. So, either change with the times or die like Blockbuster. Publishers will not want to follow that path.