Does Netflix Compete with Sleep?
Netflix added fifteen-million subscribers in March, double their expectations. This makes sense. Most people watch Netflix on a television. Most people search for Netflix around November and December of each year.
In 2018, the Netflix annual report noted, “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO.” Director of content, Ted Sarandos told Variety their biggest competitor was sleep.
Does Netflix really compete with Fortnite and sleep?
Well, kinda, but probably not as much as we think. There’s a human tendency psychologists call opportunity cost neglect. It’s our inability to compare across categories. For example, when researchers went to a Toyota dealership and asked the ‘just looking’ customers what they might buy if they didn’t buy a new car, almost everyone said they might buy a Honda.
But they also might buy a vacation, a remodeled kitchen, or two-semesters of college for their oldest daughter. A dollar is a dollar but that’s not how people think.
In another study, researchers asked people if they would buy an iPod with 40gb for $399 or an iPod with 20gb for $299. Most college students chose the larger size for more money.
However, when researchers added ‘and with your $100 in savings you can buy better headphones or download more music’ the students flipped their answer. Now it made sense to buy the smaller and cheaper option but have money for music.
Asking people, If you don’t watch Netflix, what might you do? is a murky question. If people don’t compare across categories, then they’ll probably bring up what comes to mind: Amazon, Hulu, HBO, or play Fortnite.
To untangle this web of apps and find which activities compete with Netflix we need to ask what job do people hire Netflix to do?
Bob Moesta has pioneered the JTBD research (I’ve added my own thoughts) and he says that company growth will come from “horizontal integration, not vertical integration.”
This observation came after an interviewee told Moesta what she did after work. Some nights she ran, some nights she ate ice-cream, some nights she played video games. Superficially we don’t think that Nike, Ben and Jerry’s, and Microsoft’s Xbox compete. But for this woman, they do. For this woman the JTBD is ‘unwind after work’.
If that’s true does Netflix compete with Nike, Ben and Jerry’s, and Microsoft’s Xbox too? Let’s take some guesses.
Netflix competes with babysitters. Parents use Netflix to keep their kids out of the way. During the quarantine of 2020, it’s very likely that many WFH parents use the service for spot supervision. When my daughters were younger, my wife and I certainly did.
Netflix competes with comedy clubs. Yes, going-out and staying-in are two very different jobs. The former is a date single people have, the latter is a date married people have. But for a good laugh, Netflix stand-up specials are tops.
Netflix competes with serialized television. Many of the top shows on Netflix are the same characters is the same situations with the same friends. Customers who watch these shows hire Netflix for the familiar.
Netflix competes to be in the Zeitgeist. I tried to watch Tiger King. I wanted to join the conversation, to mosey over to the digital water cooler. I couldn’t. Every Fantasy Football League has someone who did not want to play but they did not want to be left out more.
Netflix competes with boredom/family time. Why do Netflix searches peak around Thanksgiving and Christmas? Is it a coincidence that these are the two times of the year many are too lonely or too together?
Netflix doesn’t compete with Fortnite. Netflix is lean-back, Fortnite is lean-in. Netflix is consume, then converse. Fortnite is consume and converse. Netflix is same-level. Fortnite is level-up. Though both digital apps with millions of users, the Netflix and Fornite overlap is small. We think these two companies compete because they are easy to compare.
Netflix doesn’t compete with sleep. Are there any shared benefits between sleep and Netflix?
The JTBD research is a very helpful tool figuring out what people want, not what they say they want. Moesta has written a few books but he’s a great speaker so start your intro to JTBD on YouTube.
Thanks for reading and supporting.