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Netflix Testing Network Branded Web Pages?

12 Mar, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix’s stance as a complement to cable and satellite TV could come under increased scrutiny after a report indicated the streaming service is testing branded pages for select content providers.

The pages for Viacom properties Nickelodeon, MTV, Animal Planet, TLC and Comedy Central include hyperlinks detailing additional information for Netflix subscribers regarding programming available to stream, according to AdAge.com.

Netflix, which continues to be cited as a probable reason (along with the economy) cable subscribers are scaling back monthly access to pay-TV channels, has recently upped talks with multichannel video program distributors looking to bow subscription video-on-demand services.

During the weekend, No. 1 cable operator Comcast said it would not be offering a bundled Netflix option to subscribers.

For Nickelodeon, which saw a double-digit ratings decline last fall among its core viewers — children — added exposure on Netflix and its upgraded “Just for Kids” platform can’t be a bad thing.

“We continue to look for more ways to brand our content on Netflix,” Denise Denson, EVP of content distribution and marketing at Viacom Media Networks, told AdAge. “The brand is what funds the shows.”

Meanwhile, Netflix continues to rebound from last fall’s PR gaffes that saw more 800,000 subscribers depart (many since returned). Analyst Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles said he believes an uptick in Netflix multimedia ads underscores a softening of domestic subscriber growth — key to funding international growth and resultant big-dollar content acquisitions.

In addition, the analyst believes Netflix is looking for ancillary ways to drive consumer and content holder’s interests.

“Netflix seems sanguine about its ability to control content costs and keep losses to a minimum, and it appears that the company intends to control costs by buying lower-quality content,” Pachter wrote in a March 12 note. “The company appears to believe it can replace its Starz content (ended Feb. 29) with a handful of Epix movies. We disagree, and think that the loss of the Starz feature films severely impacts product quality.”

“We're always working on improving Netflix but no comment specifically on this,” said spokesperson Steve Swasey in an email.

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