Netflix has made binge viewing mainstream, and demonstrated that you don’t need to be a traditional TV networks to make great TV shows. But that’s just the beginning. The company has big plans for next year, and its executives previewed some of them during Netflix’s Q3 earnings call earlier this week.
Here are five things that Netflix is going to change up next:
Netflix already freed us from the traditional TV schedule when it decided to release entire seasons of TV shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black at once. Now, it is considering going even further and shortening the time we have to wait for the next season to start. “Ideally, we would like to reduce those cycle times,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos Monday. He added that Netflix still wants to leave enough time for good writing and production work, but that the company is excited about the ability to try this.
In fact, there’s already a show in Netflix’s catalog that might come back sooner that you would have expected. Sarandos said that Netflix renewed Orange is the New Black early with the hopes to close the window between season one and two. In other words: Instead of making you wait for next summer, Orange could come back early next year.
After its success with its original TV shows, Netflix has been getting plenty of questions about when it is going produce its own original movies. In the past, company executives have been hesitant, saying that the economics of a movie are very different from a TV show. But this week, Sarandos struck a different tone.
He confirmed that Netflix is looking to add exclusive documentaries to its catalog, but he also raised the possibility of Hollywood exclusives for Netflix, with a twist.
Currently, Netflix only gets access to movies in what the industry calls the pay TV window, which can be close to a year after the films first get into theaters. “Even through that window is moving, I don’t know if it is moving aggressive enough,” he said, raising the possibility that Netflix could spend extra cash to get access to movies right after they stop playing on the big screen.
Not long ago, it was notable that Netflix was getting 1080p HD movies. Recently, it has been pushing Super HD, which is basically 1080p HD video streamed at higher bit rates that looks better because it features less compression. But next year, Netflix is going even further, as it is looking to stream 4K videos straight to supported devices. And we are not just talking a test title here and there: “We want to be one of the big suppliers of 4k next year,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
Netflix is already available in the U.K., Ireland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. Next year, the company plans to go into additional international markets. It hasn’t revealed yet where it wants to go, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said this week that the company is “looking at some larger expansions.” It’s likely that Netflix is looking to expand further into continental Europe, with both Germany and France being possible targets.
Your cable box
Netflix has been a huge success on Apple TV, Roku and other connected devices, but its app isn’t available on cables boxes yet. Previously, content agreements with Hollywood prevented pay TV operators from including the app on leased devices, but those contracts changed. The company already struck some deals with pay TV operators in the U.K., and it is looking to do the same in the U.S., but executives also cautioned this week that these deals need to make sense for both sides. Netflix CFO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells spelled out what means in their letter to investors:
“As a general rule, we’re happy to support devices from other video providers as long as we get application placement commensurate with our popularity.”
In other words: Netflix is more popular than HBO in the U.S. now, so it wants to be just as easily accessible.
That kind of attitude is no accident: Netflix has been on a roll lately, and even got a glowing endorsement from activist investor Carl Icahn this week. With its stock price way up, new exclusive content coming to the service, and a whole bunch of interesting initiatives ranging from 4K to movie deals in the works, 2014 is going to be an interesting year for Netflix.