The Super Bowl Was Used To Break The System... Someone let an ant in
Many of you may have tuned in to watch one of America’s biggest sporting events, the Super Bowl. It captures the attention of millions inside of the US and several more across the globe. Its a sporting event dependent on the mechanics of TV for much of its success.
Television has been transformed outside the Super Bowl. Look at the biggest sports channel, ESPN, it lost 13 million subscribers over the past 6 years and is almost a shadow of itself; now having to rollout a direct to home web subscription for $5. Yet, the Super Bowl’s backbone continues to be advertisers lining up to be associated to the event; spending millions to air their spots (this year $5 million per 30 sec); and paying out a considerable amount for: quality talent, ad agencies and directors who will make commercials people will watch, talk about, share and act on.
TV has shifted in such as a way that you don’t sit in front of it and marvel at the production; it is now something you consume — in whole or bite-sized pieces. And the Super Bowl is not immune from the shift: the commercials, the halftime show, the opening or close of the game — each are seen as distinct parts. But this is not what broke the system. Super Bowl Sunday TV was disrupted. Someone invited an ant to the Super Bowl picnic.
The ant’s name: Scout Netflix. It paid its entry fee and brought a nice morsel to the picnic — The Cloverfield Paradox.
Whereas an ant will scout a location, steal a morsel and report back to the nest with its find in hand or claw (or whatever ants have); this ant brought a morsel to the picnic — some would say this is a paradox to being a scout ant. Scout Netflix dropped the Cloverfield Paradox movie trailer and the actual movie in the Super Bowl. They pulled a Beyoncé (its now a verb, if you did not know).
This would not be the first time Netflix has launched a movie on their platform. However, its action during the Super Bowl breaks the movie studio system of setting up big box office titles and tentpoles. They release trailers for movies in the Super Bowl well in advance of the premiere, for example: Solo: A Star Wars Story (May), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June), Skyscraper (July), Mission: Impossible — Fallout (July) — all appeared in the broadcast. Studios leverage the 100 million people that would be delivered to see their respective trailers to start buzz and drive ticket sales demand. Netflix broke this system.
Scout Netflix Speaks
Netflix aired its spot to 100 million people and said:
Here, this is the trailer for a brand new movie … and you can watch it … in less than 2 hours, globally.
- No waiting months
- No critic spoiling the surprise
- No extra cost of $12 - $17 paid to a movie theatre and the $20 in concessions
- You can watch it anywhere around the world
- You can watch on any device you choose; even stream it over your phone on your way home from the game
Note: Netflix has 117 million paid subscribers; is available over the web, smartphone app, pre-installed smart TVs
The Ripples Through The Industry
Normally, the scout ant searches out food then the troops go back to the source, attack and gorge. However, in this case, Netflix's scouting technique has the ability to:
- Pull more people away from the movie studio system of marketing and further weaken its product delivery model
- Help to upend what the Super Bowl has depended on for all these years — TV advertisers being a backbone. Netflix has no advertising, yet.
- Systematically encourage people to drop cable TV subscriptions; therein forcing TV broadcasters to build their brands outside of the cable system.
It should be noted this year’s Super Bowl viewership dropped by 7% from last year (it was also reported movie theaters hit a 25 year low in 2017).
Rule: Be careful about inviting an ant named Netflix to a picnic. He may look like an ant, but it might turn out to be a trojan to steal your Doritos.