Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Netflix-Samsung exclusive content deal is a bad idea and will end in controversy

Netflix joined Samsung on-stage during its “Unpacked” 2020 event on Tuesday in San Fransisco to announce a partnership between the two tech giants. Some of the announcements were pretty straightforward, but others ended up being slightly more controversial.

Firstly, the new partnership means deeper integration of Netflix into Samsung’s software, notably Bixby. You can now call upon the voice assistant to open specific titles directly on Netflix, without opening the app. There will also be pop-up recommendations of shows Netflix thinks you are more likely to watch, along with deeper integration of the streaming service in Samsung’s finder search and “Samsung Daily” UI.

Samsung-Netflix users to get behind-the-scenes content

The controversial part is the exclusive content deal between Samsung and Netflix. Netflix users on Samsung Galaxy devices will receive exclusive behind-the-scenes looks from popular shows. Not any original content, just behind-the-scenes clips.

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Samsung Unpacked Netflix deal
Behind the scenes footage from its Narcos: Mexico showcased during Unpacked event. Image: Samsung

Creators behind Netflix shows will use Samsung’s new S20 “pro cameras” to shoot behind-the-scenes videos of the making of some shows. Samsung Galaxy devices will then be able to access this exclusive content. It is unsure if this is only for the latest S20 devices, initially, or all Galaxy devices.

Read Also: Netflix adds much-requested option of disabling autoplay in profile settings

Why this is a bad idea…

Netflix already limits some of the non-original content that the service provides based on country, due to licensing issues and other local government regulation. This has been widely accepted by now, and users know that they can’t view all content. However, limiting content based on device hardware is a really bad idea.

Netflix has a history of trying to give as many people as possible access to their content. They do this by allowing insanely cheap subscription plans ($2.79/month) in countries like India, where streaming is limited to SD and mobile-only. Though this can be seen as a hardware limitation, it is limited to a hardware category. The $2.79/month just doesn’t allow laptops and TVs, only mobile phones. The limitation also still allows all access on mobile and no access (to the entire service) on larger devices.

Netflix’s new deal with Samsung limits behind-the-scenes content to a specific brand of hardware. Though it’s just behind-the-scenes content, if it’s good, everyone should have access to it – regardless of what device they are using. Though the deal is sweet to Samsung, it’s confusing to me as to how it makes sense for Netflix. According to Statista, Samsung only has an 18.8% global smartphone market share (Q4 ’19). To put that in perspective, Apple had a 20.0% global smartphone market share (Q4 ’19).

According to Recode, 70% of streams are on televisions. Though 30% of Netflix signups are from mobile, only 10% of streams are mobile after the first 6 months. The number of people actually viewing the behind-the-scenes content will be extremely limited. The partnership seems to go against Netflix’s past moves and supposed ideology. It is interesting to see how long this deal will last.

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