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Multichannel Multiplied: Netflix and the Decline...

June 21, 2010
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By Pete Basiliere, Gartner


Multichannel communications have taken a giant leap forward, one that poses another serious threat to printed communications. Netflix, which already enables customers to view movies and TV shows on DVD players, televisions and personal computers, now offers an iPhone application that enables viewing across channels, according to Gizmodo.com .

The new Netflix iPhone app enables subscribers to begin viewing a movie or show in one media (streamed to a TV, for instance), stop the download and then resume it in another media (iPhone, for instance). As Gizmo pointed out, “We'll be able to start movies on our TVs or iPads and resume them on other devices. Sounds great and reminds us about a patent we heard about a while ago.”

If you’re like most people, when you think about multichannel communications you think of the content being presented in one of the multiple channels or another. And that is certainly understandable, especially when you start thinking about all of the issues faced when providing the same content on paper, on the Internet, on mobile phones, etc. Pretty straight-forward, right? Simply present the content (movie, TV show, marketing collateral, transaction documents, whatever) in the one channel that is selected by the provider or chosen by the customer.

But the idea behind Netflix’s app has changed all that. And hastened the decline of print in the process.

Multi-channel marketing no longer means the content that is being provided to the customer must remain in one of the multiple channels. No, content must also be able to seamlessly skip across channels when the customer wants the content in a different media.

How can print compete with digital media’s ability to not only present timely, personal and relevant content but to also shift between media at the customer’s whim? Consider this sequence of events:

· The customer determines what media she wants for the communication, any communication

· The customer determines if and when she wants to shift to another media

· The customer expects a seamless transition from one media to the other

· The provider serves up content relevant to the customer based on the context in which she made the decision and the media that she shifted to

· The provider not only must make the dynamic media shift occur, but it must also cover the incremental technology costs of providing the service

· The provider leverages its knowledge of the context within which the customer made her decision by charging either the customer or an advertiser in order to fund the technology and profit margin

So by not simply enabling movie or TV viewing but making it possible to seamlessly transition between media, Netflix has the opportunity to leverage what it knows about the context within which the customer made the media shift to serve – and profit from – what Gartner refers to as “context-enriched content.”

Will the Netflix iPhone app really cause the demise of print? Of course not, not by itself. However, the ever increasing and improving digital technologies – and now the ability to seamlessly switch from one digital channel to another – certainly decreases users’ inclination to print and increases their preference for digital communications.

Comments? E-mail press@OutputLinks.com .

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