This tells Netflix that I am a consumer of this kind of content to the point where I will pay extra money to gain early access to it. This tells Netflix to invest more money in this type of work, because I’m passionate about it and want to see more of it. This gives Netflix an understanding of the depth of passion for their creative work, so that, even if those shows don’t get killer ratings, they know that people want to see more of it and are willing to invest in Netflix doing more of it.
This expands to other areas—say, anime, or fantasy shows, or other deep-genre bets. The thing is, Netflix kills excellent shows like Tuca & Bertie based on what its inputs tell it, and honestly, the inputs don’t account for the fact that the show has 50,000 superfans; it only really knows that it has 100,000 viewers. That probably isn’t enough on Netflix scale, but it would be if Netflix knew those 50,000 people were more likely to be deeply engaged than someone who watched those Ryan Reynolds films. Ultimately, it needs the 50,000 people who love everything Lisa Hanawalt does more than it needs the audience of people who will watch an Adam Sandler movie once, because those people will be more likely to follow Netflix around long-term.
Right now, the path that Netflix is on is that it aims broad because it needs the biggest audience possible, and its primary input for ROI is that people watched a show, not that they are going nuts for Tuca & Bertie
online. (That show later became a hit for Adult Swim
, a more narrow niche play by comparison, after Netflix shut it down—a massive missed opportunity, given that Hanawalt found her first major success on Netflix with BoJack Horseman.) This is the same problem MTV and VH1 faced in the early 2000s. They were unable to monetize the fact that the network created millions of music fanatics, at least to the degree its corporate parents wanted; eventually, the data points that told it it needed to build the largest possible audiences won out.
Netflix is on the path to Ridiculousness-style content taking over in the long run if it doesn’t foster fandoms of its own. And the way to fandoms is to build additional value within the subgenres.
Convince them to pay an extra buck a month for more value, rather than just charging extra money just because you need to hit a financial goal. If the value is there, they will pay it.