Netflix should make a YouTube alternative

Dear Netflix,

Netflix is in a unique position where they have recruited top talent and have revolutionized TV. A huge amount of effort and money has been spent building out a data pipeline to recommend shows. Your company has come a long way since The Netflix Prize and I’m very excited for the future of Netflix.

I’m a 4th year computer science major attending UT Austin, and in many ways I grew up on the internet.  YouTube caught my eye early on and I know the platform very well.  I learn a lot from YouTube and think that it really has done a great service by disseminating knowledge. This is all to say that I am very in tune with YouTube culture – I spend a lot more time on YouTube than Netflix. I listen to podcasts about YouTube and I’ve been here for every major event or scandal since 2011. I know the phases of YouTube, who innovated what and I’ve watched many of the old-school youtubers.

Now, more than ever, content creators are extremely upset with how YouTube is managed, the poor communication, the recommendation system, and advertisers pulling money because ads were run on problematic content. Susan Wojcicki has led it in a direction that is completely at odds with the entire spirit of YouTube – which is the beauty of having a direct relationship between content creators and their audience. Instant Feedback. You want your opinion voiced? Go for it. Build your own playground. Nonsense, the YouTube CEO says, let’s go back to TV, pay top youtubers to make a show, and compete with Netflix.

Netflix is the best poised company to make a competitor. The Netflix brand is cool. Netflix has buckets of money. Netflix has hired tech leads and top talent, who were working on YouTube. Most importantly, Netflix has spent a lot of money developing things like Titan, and they have extremely similar technical problems that YouTube has. Data streaming, Data processing, data engineering, recommendations, and growing a large user base.

As I have learned from Bayes Rule, true innovation and change seems impossible because no one has done it before. So why try to compete with YouTube? What does Netflix have to gain?

Advertisers have pulled out of YouTube twice – an event known as the ad-pocalypse -, they are having problems monetizing the platform. Both times were avoidable, and YouTube didn’t take action soon enough. The community was furious, many complaining that communication to its creators is horrible and this problem stems from YouTube having no competitors and no accountability. But before this happened, circa 2015, small content creators with channels of about 200,000 subscribers were able to quit their jobs! The ad-pocalypse has essentially wiped out the small content creator. They can’t make ends meet and as a result they aren’t producing the same quality content because there isn’t the same incentive.

Advertisers want to advertise, but the platform and leadership has continuously failed to keep ads from playing on controversial content. So they pulled out. My point is that big advertisers have lost faith in YouTube and took their business elsewhere.

A widespread sentiment, even since 2012, is that YouTube doesn’t care about its creators or the community. This sentiment is echoed from YouTubers ranging from DramaAlert, CGPGrey, Casey Neistat, Philip Defranco, Jason Nash, etc. The community would complain about some scandal bad communication, then nothing would happen.

Many communities feel that their opinions are being censored and that their monetization has been completely cut off with very little communication. Hence why Patreon became a huge thing on YouTube. Many small-time YouTubers chasing their passion resorted to Patreon to be able to keep making the content they want to make. The unfair monetization rules, where employees bring their own opinions and feelings into deciding what content can and cannot be seen by the public, is indicative of poor leadership, really.

 

Game-changing opportunities only come once in a lifetime, and the mark of a great tech company is adapting to and capitalizing on great opportunities. Netflix is in a very unique position right now, with the technology they have built and brand they have made.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

Daniel Moore

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