For me, in my innocence, the arrival of Netflix over here represented far more than just another source of media at a good price. I hoped it was the beginning of the end for the nonsensical region-limiting of media based on pre-internet, pre-airplane, business models.
All of the vested interests can fight all they like, but eventually every movie, song and TV show will be available in every format at the same time globally. You either facilitate this happening or you will go the way of the manuscript scribes.
As a Silicon Valley company, I had thought Netflix was at the vanguard of this change. Sure they have to work with the existing media structures, but bit-by-bit, we thought they were chipping away and fighting the good fight on our behalf.
I read about Lilyhammer recently and I got very excited. It is the first original TV series to be co-produced by Netflix and broadcast over their system. Even better it starred the wonderful Steve Van Zandt as a wiseguy going into witness protection in Norway.
I thought we would finally have proof that the new models work. A single TV series available simultaneously worldwide wherever Netflix was available. Two big fingers to the distribution dinosaurs.
It started on NRK on Jan 25th and then Netflix on Feb 6th, so last night I loaded up Netflix on the Wii (Sidenote: Someone in Netflix is paying attention, it now offers Netflix or Netflix Kids Only when you launch it. Nice one).
But to my horror Lilyhammer was not listed. WTF?
Yup, they are only showing a Norwegian show in Netflix US/Canada/SouthAmerica. A quick bit of Googling reveals the probable reason why. They have sold the rights to BBC4. Or BBC FØUR as some wag has named it due to The Killing and Borgen.
This is, by all accounts, a really great new TV series, which could have been the flagship for Netflix in new territories. It would show that they are about a lot more than old episodes of Fawlty Towers. And what do they do? They let the BBC get their mitts on it.
What next? They let RTE buy it in Ireland and then they don’t broadcast it just so they can shaft TV3? As they so love to do.
Netflix should have paid whatever it took to get all the rights to that show outside of Norway. It is staggering incompetence that they didn’t do so. Rupert must be laughing his ass off at their cack-handed bungling.
As I said last night when I heard about it, we all know that BBC4 isn’t where most people in UK/Ireland will be getting their copy of Lilyhammer.
At the end of the 30 day trial, I fully intended to subscribe to Netflix. It wasn’t just about access to lots of slightly aged but still good content, it was to support the principle of the service too. Now I’m not so sure.
We have to watch the Netflix UK Twitter account broadcasting fake interest about 40 year old TV shows:
You can now enjoy the misadventures of Basil Fawlty w/ Seasons 1-2 of acclaimed British sitcom Fawlty Towers! bit.ly/yGesL3
— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) January 24, 2012
Whilst we watch the Netflix US account talking about a show they helped pay for but won’t show us:
— Netflix (@netflix) February 6, 2012
Who runs PR and Comms in Netflix? Have you heard of the internet?
Unfortunately, this is the OTT image that popped into my head last night when thinking about Netflix. I hope I’m wrong.