Go big or go home’ is the battle cry of capitalism. ‘You need to grow faster or you are toast’ another famous cry to make hay while the sun shines.
There is a Biblical story of Joseph who could interpret dreams and was a prisoner in the Pharaoh prisons. When the Pharaoh saw a dream of seven fat cows being eaten by seven thin cows, no one in the kingdom could decipher his dreams. Upon the recommendation of his butler who was imprisoned for a crime and later exonerated, Joseph foretold a period of fourteen years — seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. He recommended steps to be done during the periods of prosperity so that Egypt could weather the periods of famine. It was a revolutionary idea for the empire building Egyptians who were known for the pyramid tombs and massive expenditures as a result. Since they did not know how to go about this, Pharaoh appointed Joseph as his Man Friday. Joseph went about an ambitious program of building huge storehouses to store the produce during the prosperous periods. When the time for famine arrived, it was recorded that not just Egypt but the entire world made its way to purchase food to feed themselves. The windfall that Joseph made for the Egyptians was spectacular. Little did he know that the entire wealth was later used after his lifetime by the same Egyptians to enslave his descendants, the Hebrews (precursor to modern Jews) into building massive monuments — some of which are even standing today.
A decade ago to be precise, was when I first heard of Netflix. At that time there was a store called Blockbuster from where you could rent movies. The shop had priced rentals of movies that you could rent and watch in the comfort of your own homes. Netflix came up with a revolutionary mail-in based DVD subscription program that was successful. However, few years later, they decided to completely move into an internet based streaming service by charging a minimum monthly fee-based subscription model. This upended the industry totally that people stopped at one time going to theatres and embarked on a cable TV cord cutting mission. The conventional media industry that relied on a movie theatre, cable, DVD model was taken aback by surprise. Here you have an internet company come up with a new model of content distribution that was remarkable and disruptive. Aided by Amazon’s servers, the entertainment now streamed 24 x 7 from the internet cloud — changing the way how one viewed entertainment forever.
Fast forward to 2019, and we see a plethora of competitors vying for the same eyeballs with massive volumes of content out there for people to feast upon. The average viewer has never had it too good. Or did they? If you look at the story of Joseph, the massive breakthrough he brought on the Egyptians by a mere deciphering of a dream was used by the former in enslaving generations of his own descendants. The new entertainment model that was envisaged by Netflix has resulted is a massive outbreak of content where the viewer can watch content on every imaginable genre available, but cannot end up liking anything. As the tech giant Netflix tries to grow themselves by piling huge volumes of debt, one can only wait and see how it all ends for the company as ambitious media-based competitors pull their content away from the platform to build their own. It is a race to the finish with diminishing returns and eyeballs for sure as viewers get tired and fatigued of meaningless content and finally resort to watching the few quality ones. With more of everything, it truly becomes the less of anything — and in the end counter intuitive.