Going Global (or Globally Local)? How Netflix Produces Amazing Global Content

How does the digital media company achieve the unprecedented success that Netflix has reached in recent years? Do they think global or do they approach content with an alternative content strategy?

According to Cindy Holland, VP of Original Content at Netflix, the more specific, and authentic the local content creators can produce, the higher the likelihood it will resonate with a global market.

Cindy Holland, VP Original Content, Netflix in Jerusalem

In fact, she stated that Netflix doesn’t have to think about ratings (since that’s based on an ad marketing model), the data and insights the company collects prove this unique content strategy. Netflix is established across190 countries and over 80% of the SVOD’s new acquisitions come from outside the US, the data shows that foreign customers want foreign titles, not global content. Think local, produce great, authentic content and it will rise to the top.

Keynote Conversation at INTV 2019

Holland shared the company’s insights and vision as part of INTV 2019 in Jerusalem. The 17 year Netflix exec was the opening keynote during Keshet’s INTV Conference in Jerusalem. Interviewed by Avi Nir — exec of Keshet International- offered an engaging conversation that spanned everything from Netflix’s curation model and top shows to Holland’s biking hobby.

Even while controlling such a massive budget, Cindy Holland really views her role as that of enabler and nurturer. As mentioned in a recent interview for Rolling Stone, “I’m all about helping creators get the best of their vision,” she says. “People know me to be straightforward. I try to be very clear and give a fast answer. There’s a real trust and simplicity that comes from that like we have the same agenda.”

The interview with Cindy Holland was packed with amazing content, these highlights offer an excellent perspective on how to market, create content that is valuable and interesting to any audience.

It’s hard to believe that Netflix started Netflix started 17 years ago as a DVD distribution service. How did the company’s early and modest beginning shape its future?

Yes, the company has adapted over the years. Starting as a subscription service, we delivered over 100K titles to consumers. It taught us a lot about their preferences, which were unique, eclectic, and diverse. While the content was important, the data that we collected served as the backbone of our business. In many ways, while the content was good, the data enabled us to succeed. It’s an inseparable match.

Who is Behind Netflix? Who is Your Primary Competition?

Honestly, there are many opportunities for big entertainment companies, even the newbies, to be successful. We’re still in the initial phases of digital content. Today, we have to remember that you’re competing for consumers’ time and what they choose to do with their downtime. This is our goal. To maximize their experience during the time they cherish most.

In the 3 Years, Who will be the ‘Rhino’ Behind Netflix?

We’re the way for on-demand TV and companies who remain stagnant in linear TV will find it increasingly difficult to stay relevant and will probably not be viable for very long. The future is on-demand. Despite the critique of the company’s speed of global domination, Holland said in her Rolling Stone interview that “If our goal is for every person on the planet to enjoy content from Netflix, we need to be programming a whole lot…There are 300 million people regularly coming to the service looking for something to watch.”

In order to reach a larger audience, we have to continue to produce content that is valuable to attract new consumers while engaging our existing paid members.

Is it “man or machine” that determine the decision making process at Netflix?

Well, today, it is more likely to be a woman. Humans are making the decisions about what we choose to invest in, but we’re aided by the info we have…The company’s ‘notorious’ algorithms, aka the ‘projection model’, simply help to “set parameters” around greenlights.

As a company, like our early days, it would be foolish not to use it. Data helps us really spot areas of opportunity and helps us when we’re looking to make a decision about a specific title, helps us size up what that audience size might be, and what we might want to invest. Like any other endeavor, it helps us determine if it’s a great idea, whether it could return, and if we believe in the creative team to execute the idea.

In fact, like traditional broadcasters, the data can help Netflix to determine the level of success of a show within a 28-day window period following a premiere.

How do you, and Netflix, control so much content?

As the one responsible for viewing some 1,500 shows and counting to feed 130 million members, Holland pointed out that the best way to “support” the volume of content emerging on Netflix has been to eliminate the “bottleneck decision-making at the top.” It could be that she’s hinting to a decentralized future of commissioning power, vastly different from the current LA-based content distribution model. This strategic shift would be a marked change than traditional models. In fact, Holland stated that “there are dozens of people who have greenlight and licensing power for all the different kinds of content we commission and have on our service…What we try and do is build a culture of freedom and responsibility to delegate that responsibility as far down as we can.” Netflix doesn’t look to dictate notes or solutions to its creative teams.

And, unlike the larger tech companies, like Facebook and Google, who she considers “uncurated platforms,” Holland proudly distinguished the Netflix business model, “we have a different business model, much closer to cable TV,” by highlighting its ability to curate content titles that resonates with the company’s eclectic audiences.

Does Netflix notice a shift in how consumers consume their content? Is it on mobile or what trends are emerging?

Despite the many reports, Holland said that event today, the majority of their audience is watching Netflix on TV, or across multiple devices, not solely on mobile devices. Interestingly, in emerging markets, the trend is that more people prefer to watch Netflix on mobile devices, but that’s not the dominant viewing preference for Netflix globally.

With these remarks, Cindy Holland is setting the stage for industry leaders, innovators, and disruptors from across the world to discuss the multitude of issues posed by the world of modern television. At the same time, Jerusalem and Israel can now add TV to the growing industries that it’s disrupting in a creative manner.

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