Should Netflix be affecting your marketing strategy?

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YouTube and Netflix are driving fundamental shifts in viewing habits and industry structures, according to Ofcom’s second Media Nations UK 2019 report published this month. But are these changes something that should be affecting your marketing strategy?

On-demand is changing us

Watching TV used to be part of a routine. You’d tune in at the same time each week to catch your favourite programme, arranging plans to fit in with that must-see show.

Then, in 2006, channel 4 launched 40D, and everything began to change. Thanks to faster internet speeds, you could suddenly watch whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. This idea was pioneering, culturally significant. It marked the start of a fundamental behavioural shift in the way we consume media. 

Although it was just 11 years ago, it’s hard to remember that the landscape was so different. Pricey DVD box sets lined your shelves. You probably had an empty Facebook page that was mostly used to ‘poke’ people. Twitter was just hatching. Instagram and Influencers were a distant phenomenon.

I vividly remember resisting signing up to 40D because I couldn’t grasp exactly what it was. Why would I want to watch TV on my tiny laptop when I could watch a DVD on my TV screen? What did they mean, everything was available at the click of a button? All TV ever? Really? For free? The concept of TV was being turned on its head.

By 2007 all major channels were launching their on-demand services. Then in 2012 (unbelievably just 5 years ago) along came Netflix. Internet streaming capabilities catapulted online TV content into our lives with Ofcom reporting that 47% of UK households now have a subscription to video-on-demand services.

TV technology development timeline

Why should this be affecting your marketing strategy?

According to statistics published by Forbes, we’re bombarded with up to 10,000 messages a day. When you consider how saturated the internet is with content, tapping into current behavioural trends becomes vital to cut through the noise.

To stay ahead of the curve, and our competitors, we must understand these wider trends and use them to evolve the way we communicate with our audience.

So what can YouTube and Netflix habits teach you about changing audience behaviour and how should this be affecting your marketing strategy?

List showing viewing times per channel

We want it now

On-demand services have without a doubt changed the way we think about and consume media.

A recent example of this is reflected in Ofcom’s viewing figures on the BBC series ‘Killing Eve’. A huge 40% of fans streamed each episode before it aired on TV. Only 24% of the total audience waited to tune in and watch live on TV.     

We’re no longer happy to wait a week to catch the next episode. We don’t value delayed gratification, building anticipation. We’ve quickly adapted to a binge-watch culture where we’ll easily devour an entire series within a few sittings.

In this instantly gratifying on-demand world, we expect to have whatever we want, whenever we want it. Smartphones and social media not only enable this, but also perpetuate the need to live instantaneously, driving a change in our behaviour that runs deeper than TV viewing habits.

Jodie Comer in BBC's Killing Eve

We have constant FOMO

The thing about accessing everything instantly is that it creates a race to be first.

Watching an entire series at once, smug in the knowledge you can avoid spoilers. The thrill of knowing you’ve experienced that plot twist before any of your friends. The satisfaction of being in on the secret.

Social media gives us an outlet to immediately share this experience, it makes us feel part of something bigger – but you have to be quick. If you’re not part of the conversation instantly, it moves on without you. And so the concept of FOMO is born.

FOMO has well and truly rooted itself as a 21st century emotion. The instinctive human need not to be left behind is manifested in our online world. Increasingly, avoiding FOMO has become a key goal in our online experience.   

Fear of missing out

We want to be influential

Last but not least is the element of control. The internet may have introduced us to instant gratification and FOMO, but technology has given us the means to embed these behaviours into our day to day lives.

Smart devices and 4G internet speeds put the control firmly in our hands. No longer must we schedule our time around the TV, instead TV must develop to fit into our lives. It hasn’t taken long for us to seek this control elsewhere in the content we consume.

Netflix caught onto this very early on, experimenting with an episode of their Black Mirror series ‘Bandersnatch’, in which viewers could choose their own ending. They now have 6 interactive series and plan to release many more over the coming years.

Suddenly, it’s not enough to be a passive viewer, we want to – are even beginning to expect to – be an active influence in the media we consume.  

Man smiling at mobile phone

How could live video content help?

Live video content is born from the very technology that has created these behavioural shifts.

Live video is instant. It allows viewers to experience your content in real-time. There’s no waiting for the promo video to be edited or the report to be published. Viewers can be there with you every step of the way from the comfort of their screen, without needing to re-arrange their lives.    

Live video is compulsive. What banishes FOMO more than being part of something as it happens? The excitement about what’s coming next. The thrill of knowing that you’re the first to see, that you’re involved in something brand new.

Live video is interactive. Features such as live chat, Q&A and polls mean online viewers can have real-time influence. Instead of being a passive participator, your viewers are actively contributing to their own experience which makes it richer and more satisfying.  

(These are just a few benefits of live streaming – read more here)


The most successful marketing is rooted in understanding your audience’s behaviour and adjusting your strategy to reflect that. Although channels like Netflix may seem far removed from the average business marketing strategy, look a little closer and we can soon uncover heaps of valuable insights.  

So the answer is yes, Netflix should be affecting your marketing strategy. And the best bit? Thanks to the fast-paced development of mobile and internet technology, taking advantage of new channels such as live streaming has never been more accessible or affordable.

If you’d like to find out more about live streaming and how it could help you speak to your audience more effectively, we’d love to hear from you. Call us today to chat all things live.