Netflix has been on quite the run over the last year. Its stock has exploded as its customer base nears 40 million. What's more, the company has positioned itself well with highly regarded original content and a strong foothold in the streaming business. Despite its success, complacent is not a word that one would use to describe Reed Hastings' company.
Netflix recently released a new UI, and a subsequent Wired piece on it is highly complimentary:
'[I]t looks pretty slick. While idling on any particular movie or TV show, a series of three static images from the media cycle in the background. It also spits out information about what Emmys/Oscars/etc. a show or movie has won and, if the user has connected their Netflix account to Facebook, it will show which of their friends also are fans,' says Chris Jaffe, the company's vice president of product innovation.
Does your cable TV service do this?
Neither does mine – and I don't expect that to happen anytime soon.
The new Netflix UI underscores the fact that the company possesses far superior show and movie data compared to Time Warner, Comcast and Cox Communications. And Hastings isn't afraid to use that data – and augment it whenever possible. (While its API is currently closed to new developers, third parties have already taken Netflix in interesting directions. As a result, Netflix understands its customers far better than large cable companies.)
Data: the Netflix advantage
Executives from cable companies claim that they aren't scared of Aereo, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and other alternatives that enable cord-cutting. Take statements like these with a 50-pound bag of salt. What are they supposed to say? This has Innovator's Dilemma written all over it. Privately, I'd wager a good bit of money that the more progressive execs at cable companies are scrambling. Perhaps they're looking a potential partnerships with Netflix, as is rumored. I have my doubts about such deals. Cable companies can be extremely stubborn and Hastings will want to own the customer relationship – and the data behind it.
Brass tacks: Cable companies need Netflix more than the other way around. Netflix shows that data can serve as both armor and a sword, to paraphrase from a Rush song. The most powerful companies today understand that.