Netflix Challenges the Status Quo with House of Cards

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment


House of Cards

House of Cards

Over the past few days, I have been watching House of Cards on Netflix. My two cents… if you like smart political dramas in the style of The West Wing and Newsroom, then you will likely enjoy this.

However, as much as I am enjoying the show, I am fascinated by the implications of Netflix original content, pushing the whole show out at once, and how social and digital lifestyles are embedded into the fabric of the show.

Netflix Original Content: I have been fan of Netflix’s steaming service for a while and it has been a great platform to catch up on old shows. It is not robust enough to replace cable, but now is part of my stable of content providers. If Netflix continues to develop a relevant and fresh content library – along with first-class original content, they will probably have me as a customer for life. Moreover, at roughly the same cost or less than adding an HBO, Showtime or similar channel to an existing cable bill, Netflix can be complimentary versus competitive. While most consumers are not ready to give up cable, they may be ready to add a new type of channel to their line up. I think this is strong step in that direction and IPTV and entertainment platforms such as xBox only make it easier.

Pushing out the Complete Series: This is genius to me. Like others have noted this is very experimental, but not off the charts.  I have enjoyed for years watching shows in marathon format, but you can always tell how the show is designed around commercial breaks and episodes. While the episodic notion of House of Cards is very much there, the flow of the show is much improved. Furthermore, I think House of Cards does a good job with keeping segments of the show moving, than say Newsroom, which can feel a bit monotonous over the course of an hour.

Some folks are commenting that this style of release will have challenges around spoiler alerts, but those don’t watch TV in real time are already used to that. Others have commented that social TV watching  is not possible. Yes, that is true, but we really giving up anything by paying less attention to what we are watching so we can read clever quips from strangers. Lastly, I am hearing comments that House of Cards will not create weekly buzz the way other shows do. I think there is some credibility, however, producers might find more balance in seasonal buzz versus episode-to-episode buzz. Furthermore, I suspect that producers will come up with some hybrid models that release shows in quarter or half seasons to gain best of both worlds. Remember, we are experimenting here.

Embedded Social Context: Many shows about politics and news are quick to have the stereotypical blogger character, but this shows goes deeper. One of the main characters is not just blogging, but challenging the current publishing model and finding that a staid paper is not evolving fast enough.  The shows main political operator also recognizes this and uses the fresh face of emerging media to drive his own agenda. Of all the TV I have watched lately, House of Cards does the best job of highlighting new media models and the resistance of the press to change. I think this is noteworthy story line in the show. I would say more, but don’t want to be a spoiler.

So…check out the show if you like political dramas and check out Netflix if you were waiting for a good excuse to add a new channel to your line up. Would love to hear any thoughts.

Top Social and Digital Trends for Financial Services in 2013

January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment


Each year brings a time to look forward to new trends and areas of focus. As I continue to work at the intersection of customer experience and technology (mostly with financial institutions), the following is my hit list for 2013. I fully recognize this is not a comprehensive list and in no particular order, but I would love to hear what should be added, what I might be getting wrong, and whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the following:

  • Front-line Social Enablement: Over the last 2 years, I have paid a lot of attention to how front-line workers will use social media to engage with customers, prospects and referral sources, especially in wealth management and insurance. The last 2-years saw a crop of vendors such as Hearsay Social, Actiance, and Socialware bring products to market that help FIs manage these interactions and help front-line workers use social networks safely for marketing, customer service, and sales. With many major FIs picking vendors last year, this year we will see FIs try to scale front-line enablement across their sales and distribution workforces and integrate multiple vendor relationships into a cohesive ecosystem.
    • What to look for: A steady increase in how insurance agents and wealth managers incorporate social networking into their daily activities to connect with customer, prospects, and referral sources. For this to be effective, multiple vendors (compliance, CRM, social media monitoring, etc.) will need to come together, content will need some serious consideration, and analytics will be the glue.
    • The big questions: How will FIs support these front-line employees? To what degree are customers and prospects ready for FIs to network with them on social properties? Will we start to see some PR hiccups as more front-line employees get social? « Read the rest of this entry »

Could Google TV Mark a Comeback?

August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment


August 16, 2011   Over the last couple of days, the news and speculation around Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s mobility business has been rapid fire. Most of it not too exciting, but what you would logically expect – tighter integration between OS and device, deeper device expertise, access to patents, etc.

However, in reading a recent article on Mashable – Why the Google Motorola Deal is About More Than Mobile Phones, I picked up the piece of the puzzle most interesting to me: Google TV.

This past January, I said that IPTV could be great, but there is a lot of room for improvement. From a basics perspective, there needs to be better user interfaces, better integration with remotes, and a continued emphasis on sites providing ‘lean back” experiences, especially once a critical mass is there.

However, I started my list of to-do’s for IPTV with integration into the set-top box. While Google TV definitely suffered from usability issues, it suffers the most from being another device. By having the technology part of the cable box it should look to find an adoption curve more similar to digital video recorders (DVRs).

Anyway, without being long winded, I am just going to say that I am happy to see the promise of Google TV/IPTV getting a new lease on life. I do think the technology will come and it is just a matter of  how fast and who owns it.

Key Signals that SmartTV is Maturing for Marketers

January 25, 2011 § 1 Comment


Last March I became obsessed with the promise of internet TV. It has elements of  multiple technologies converging and makes a current technology that is widely used more engaging. What is not to like?

However, I believe the technology has a long way to go before becoming mainstream (not just in homes, but actually being used). In the meantime, marketers need to keep their eyes on this technology. Similar to the revolutionary changes brought by the Web and Mobile, SmartTV is not too far off from having its day.

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