Should Netflix Have Content Quotas?
Netflix provides a lot of content. But should a percentage of that content come from a specific geographic region?
Roughly 90% of what I watch, I stream through Netflix. If I’m not streaming through my TV, then I’m streaming it through the Netflix app.
I consume my content this way because of convenience. It's easy, it's right there, and there are no commercials! Yes, I'm admitting I’m lazy. It’s something that I’m working on. Netflix is also enabling me.
Despite Netflix enabling of my apathy, I enjoy the content offered. It also helps that I checked out the best internet deals and packages.
Not everything I find there is something I want to watch though.
I would prefer, every now and then, to partake in content that’s centered around my hometown of San Antonio, TX. Not southern California dolled up to look like San Antonio. Instead, I'd prefer a more realistic facsimile.
Not only that, the program should present the city of San Antonio as it truly is. The representation should be based on current trends and not what people in Hollywood assume it is- some uber-conservative town steeped in old thinking (San Antonio is quite progressive, and I should know, I live here).
Can I find this on Netflix?
No, not at all.
Should it be a near-accurate representation of San Antonio in both image and sociological makeup?
I would say, “Yes.”
And can I require Netflix to create that show just for me?
Given my laziness—yes, absolutely I should!
Is it the right way to create content?
Although I might have some influence—something like 0.000000000000000001% influence—I highly doubt Netflix will scramble to make my dream become a reality.
Because they’re not even doing that for the European Union.
Recently, the EU took to changing up the rules they impose on outside entertainment services. Part of that rewrite includes demanding that Netflix allot 30% of their catalog to content centered on European works.
Netflix, understandably, balked at the maneuver.
I can see where the EU is coming from though.
They want to see more and more content that reflects the socioeconomic, ethnic, and regional background of their viewers. This will lead to less alienation, and hopefully, more confidence in oneself. Or maybe they’re just looking to provide opportunities to the content creators themselves? I’m inferring those last two points.
Anyway, this move could backfire.
You’ve heard the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”?
The road to hell can start with these good intentions.
By holding Netflix responsible for creating content specifically geared towards a subset of their audience, Netflix gets hamstrung. They need to figure out what types of programs those viewers like to watch, bring in producers for it, and create the appropriate content. This ties up money and creative powers.
Sure, it helps those specific content creators.
But are they going to create something worth watching for the wider audience? It's possible.
Ethics aside, forcing the many to watch something that appeals to the few will end up alienating the larger group in the end.
And if there’s a quota to meet, then quality will get sacrificed so that Netflix can say, “Hey, we met the quota, so what are you complaining about?”
A Different Tact
Is it more advantageous to create content aimed at specific sub-groups?
Sure. Why not?
As I mentioned earlier, I demand a program centered on San Antonio that doesn’t involve someone butchering a Texas accent, or making all Texans look ignorant.
But forcing Netflix to create that just for me will end up alienating viewers from Dallas, Houston, and the hipsters up the road in Austin. Soon they’ll get their own shows too. When that happens, I’ll refuse to watch them based on principle. This will drive overall viewership down and put Netflix in a bind. They could end up losing money on this content.
This solution is bad.
To solve this problem I’m required to (sigh) get up and do something about it.
If I desire to watch content about San Antonio that represents it honestly, then I need to go out there and make it myself. And if it’s no good, then Netflix can pass on the project. This will, in turn, force me to work harder to create content that’s of quality and will appeal to the mass audience.
And it will involve…sigh…work.
For those who want to have content that better reflects who they are, they’ll have to go out and create it themselves. Or get on board with a project.
Others Can Help
Given how much Netflix is pouring into their content creation, they probably can accommodate new content from creators from specific areas. If the content is approved, Netflix can add it into their catalog and appeal to that specific sub-category whilst still putting out content for the larger audiences. Netflix will handle the distribution while the creators handle the production end.
Another option would be for local and regional governments to offer incentives to content creators. For example; the San Antonio Film Commission offers a 7.5% incentive on film and television project with at least $100,000 of approved San Antonio spending (check the details at filmsanantonio.com). This is to help content creators secure locations and equipment in San Antonio for their projects.
With this kind of assistance, burgeoning projects can find a place to shoot their film in and around San Antonio. They can avoid straining their budget and keep an authentic look. Once filming is wrapped, they can move forward with presenting it to distribution outlets, like Netflix.
It serves as a better motivation for content creators, as opposed to making Netflix go and find content creators. While it sounds a little elitist, this keeps sub-par content from getting distribution.
In the end, it will work out better for Netflix, the greater viewing audience, and even me!