Hi, I'm Nick. This is my blog. I'm a life-long unschooler living in New York. You can find more about me here.

I help run the Recurse Center (YC'S10).

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Netflix and the future

September 18, 2011

People are talking about how Netflix is "doomed." Most of the arguments boil down to them being killed by increasing licensing costs or loss of high-quality content. These are both serious threats to Netflix and things they absolutely have to deal with.

But before you get convinced that Netflix is over, ask yourself this: Will we ever live in a world where all movies and TV shows are available on-demand, anytime and anywhere, for a flat fee?

My guess is yes: It's inevitable that we'll get there someday. It's what people want, and no amount of stupidity or short-sightedness from the studios will stop that. They can delay it for sure, but it will happen.

The key questions then are when will this happen, and what company will finally make it a reality?

Given that nobody wants to go to half a dozen sites to stream video, it's unlikely any of the major networks or studies will own this. That means it will be a tech company. It could be a big one (e.g., Netflix, Amazon, Apple, etc) or a startup.

But looking at the current landscape, my gut says it will be Netflix. They have a fantastic product, and a clear vision of what people actually want. They've relentlessly expanded their content and the devices you can consume it on. They've reinvented and cannibalized their own business model and have a CEO with the guts and foresight to do it again. And they already have over 20 million paying customers.

Any company that streams movies and TV faces the challenges Netflix faces. Saying that Netflix can't survive solely because of licensing issues is nearly the same as saying the future of video will never come.