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【卫报】“颠覆者”Netflix要向传统电视靠近?

【卫报】“颠覆者”Netflix要向传统电视靠近?


Netflix的崛起颠覆了电视行业,也扰乱了好莱坞的阵脚,但最近这家流媒体服务公司地位因用户增长遭遇瓶颈受到动摇了。要想继续发展,Netflix就必须解决订阅用户数量增长、债务、竞争对手、服务好年轻观众等问题。


“颠覆者”Netflix要向传统电视靠近?

【卫报】“颠覆者”Netflix要向传统电视靠近?


译者:王津雨 & 邵海灵

校对:朱明艾

策划:邹世昌


Below-par subscriber numbers last week were bad news for a service that must keep growing to survive. How will it respond?

对于一家必须不断增长才能存活的服务公司来说,上周的新增用户数量没有达标无疑是个坏消息。Netflix将如何应对呢?


本文选自 The Guardian | 取经号原创翻译

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The rise of Netflix has torn up TV schedules and destabilised Hollywood, but last week it was the streaming service’s turn to be shaken. Shares in the maker of Stranger Things and The Crown suffered their biggest drop in two years on Monday after a surprising failure to hit subscriber targets.

Netflix的崛起颠覆了电视行业,也扰乱了好莱坞的阵脚,但上周轮到这家流媒体服务公司地位受到动摇了。身为《怪奇物语》和《王冠》的出品方,该公司的新增用户竟然没有达到预期,导致其股价在上周一遭遇了两年内的最大跌幅。

 

A torrent of Netflix-produced content – 700 original TV shows and 80 films this year alone – has kept the fans rolling in and made Netflix a darling with investors. But last week’s figures revived doubts about the US company’s business model. Here are some of the challenges that Netflix must address if it is to sustain its $165bn (£127bn) valuation.

Netflix仅在今年就出品了700部原创电视节目和80部电影,这股原创作品洪流吸粉无数,也使投资者对其青睐有加。但上周的数据再次引发了人们对这家美国公司商业模式的疑虑。如果Netflix还想维持其1650亿美元(折合1270亿英镑)的市场估值,那就必须解决以下难题:

 

Subscriber growth

订阅用户数量增长

 

Netflix stock fell more than 14% in after-hours trading on Monday after the company missed subscriber growth forecasts for the second quarter by 1 million. The company still added 5.2 million new users globally, which, given its base of 130 million, hardly feels like a crisis. However, the Netflix investment case relies on remaining in constant high-growth mode, and that means continuing to be able to acquire new subscribers steadily, quarter after quarter. And that is getting tougher as the “easy” subscribers in the US and major western markets have mostly been converted.

Netflix第二季度的用户增长数量比预期低了100万,周一的盘后股价随即跌超14%。其实Netflix在全球范围内还是新增了520万用户,鉴于其1.3亿的用户基数,100万的差数很难算得上是危机。然而,对该公司的投资依赖于其保持高速增长的商业模式,这意味着Netflix在每一季度都要持续获得数量稳定的新用户。随着美国和西方其他主要市场中“唾手可得”的用户大多已经路转粉,要实现用户增长也变得越来越困难。

after-hours trading:After-hours trading is trading that occurs after the traditional trading hours of the major exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market. Since 1985, the regular trading hours in the United States have been from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). After-hours trading on a day with a normal session occurs from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. 盘后交易:股票市场在每天正常交易时间结束后的交易活动。


“Netflix’s big challenge is maintaining growth worldwide while its customer base saturates in core western markets,” says Richard Broughton, analyst at Ampere. “Netflix is having to work ever harder to gain new subscribers.” The low-cost nature of the streaming service – a premium subscription costs £9.99 per month in the UK and $13.99 in the US – means that it needs inexorable growth to pay for its content. Must-watch shows and films beget happy customers and draw new subscribers, which helps pay for even more content. Netflix’s content budget is $8bn this year alone – it costs a lot of money to attract a Hollywood star such as Will Smith to a sci-fi film like Bright – and in recent years it has been raised by about $1bn annually. Netflix is stuck in a costly and precarious cycle.

安培公司分析师理查德·布劳顿指出:“Netflix面临的巨大挑战在于,它需在全世界范围内维持增长,但其用户基数在西方的核心市场已经饱和,因此现在不得不更加努力地争取新用户。”流媒体服务的廉价性质意味着它需要不断增加用户来为内容付费(在英国,高级会员的费用为每月9.99英镑,在美国为13.99美元)。必看类节目和电影能招来那些花钱买乐的观众,并能吸引新用户,这有助于公司购买更多的内容。仅在今年,Netflix购买内容的预算就达到了80亿美元——想吸引威尔·史密斯这样的好莱坞明星出演《光灵》这样的科幻电影,是需要砸下重金的——而且近年来,这份预算一直按每年约10亿美元的幅度在增长。Netflix如今陷在了一个成本不菲又岌岌可危的循环之中。

 

Debt

债务

 

Netflix is running up substantial liabilities as it struggles to bridge the gap between revenue and the spiralling cost of content. Ampere puts Netflix’s total liabilities at $30bn-$33bn, with debt about a third of this, while the majority is programming commitments. Its debt mountain has grown from $300m as recently as March 2016 to almost $9bn at the end of the second quarter this year. In April, it issued its fifth bond in three years, which added $1.9bn in fresh debt.

为了努力弥补收入与急剧上升的内容成本之间的差距,公司的债台也日益高筑。安培公司估算Netflix的总负债约为300-330亿美元,其中约三分之一为实际债务,而大头则是发展计划中承诺担负的义务。短短两年的时间里,该公司的巨额债务就从2016年3月的3亿美元一路飙升,到今年第二季度末已经接近90亿美元。今年4月,该公司发行了三年内的第五期债券,债务也增加了19亿美元。

 

Netflix declares a profit – expected to be about $1bn this year – because it is able to spread the costs of making shows over a number of years. Its total streaming obligations, for making and licensing TV and film content, will cost it $18bn over the next few years. It also has $3bn-$5bn in costs it expects to pay relating to “traditional film output deals or certain TV series licence agreements where the number of seasons to be aired is unknown”.

Netflix宣布,今年利润预期将达到10亿美元左右,因为它能在接下来的数年里分摊节目制作的成本。今后几年内,该公司将花费超过180亿美元来清还流媒体方面的债务,用于制作电视和电影内容并取得相关许可。此外,它还预计要支出30亿至50亿美元,用以支付“传统的电影出品协议或特定的电视连续剧授权协议(电视剧播放的季数还未确定)”。

 

The growth machine is struggling to keep up. Netflix expects a negative free cash flow of between $3bn and $4bn this year, meaning the amount its spends on content, marketing and other costs in 2018 will exceed what it earns from subscriber revenue ($16bn) by at least $3bn.

Netflix的增长模式正在努力跟上成本。今年Netflix的自由现金流预计为负40亿至负30亿美元,这意味着2018年该公司在内容、市场营销及其他方面的成本将超出它的用户订阅收入(160亿美元)至少30亿。

 

Rivals

竞争对手

 

In the early days of building a streaming empire, Netflix was able to get hold of the rights to TV shows and films on the cheap. Rights owners and future rivals had not identified the global potential of subscription video-on-demand rights, and Netflix prospered. The value of those rights has now spiralled, which has pushed up Netflix’s content budgets and fuelled its drive to produce its own content.

在打造流媒体帝国的早期阶段,Netflix能够以低廉的价格获得电视节目和电影的版权。当时,版权所有者和未来的竞争对手还没能意识到订阅视频点播业务在全球的发展潜力,Netflix遂一举成功。如今版权价格已飞速攀升,抬高了Netflix的内容预算,从而促使该公司制作自己的内容。

 

This strategy is also designed to help maintain Netflix’s popularity as some partners withdraw content because they now see Netflix as a threat to their own ambitions. Last year, Disney said it would pull all its content from Netflix in the US – including the Marvel superhero films, Star Wars, Pixar films such as Toy Story and big hits such as Frozen and Beauty and the Beast – as it tries to launch its own rival service.

推行这一策略也是为了维持人气,因为一些合作方开始将Netflix视为自身发展的强大威胁,于是撤回了内容。去年,迪士尼公司宣布,它将在美国范围内的Netflix上撤下其所有内容——包括漫威英雄电影、《星球大战》系列、《玩具总动员》一类的皮克斯工作室出品的电影以及像《冰雪奇缘》和《美女与野兽》这样的大片——因为迪士尼正在尝试推出自己的流媒体服务。

 

Disney’s $71bn bid for Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, which includes the studio behind films such as X-Men and Deadpool and TV shows such as The Simpsons, is a move to control crown-jewel content to supply its service and further starve Netflix.

迪士尼出价710亿美元试图收购鲁伯特·默多克的部分福克斯资产,包括制作了电影《X战警》和《死侍》及《辛普森一家》等电视剧的20世纪福克斯。这也是为了控制最具竞争力的影视内容,把它们都收归自己旗下,从而进一步切断Netflix的货源。

 

In addition, although Netflix’s huge budgets – the first series of The Crown cost £100m – have opened up a new golden age of television, they have also stoked inflation for top on-screen and off-screen talent, with rising costs further fuelled by competition from Amazon and Apple. “Netflix has invested big and inflated the market for scripted drama, but this is classic unsustainable bubble territory,” says Tim Mulligan, analyst at MIDiA Research.

此外,尽管Netflix斥1亿英镑巨资打造的第一季《王冠》开创了新的电视剧黄金时代,但同时也将聘请演员和制作团队的花费推上了新一轮通胀高峰,而且来自亚马逊和苹果公司的竞争也进一步加剧制作成本的上升。“Netflix为电视剧倾注的大笔投资已经使市场出现了价格虚高的通胀现象,但这是典型的不可持续发展,是一戳就破的泡沫。”媒体与技术分析公司MIDiA的分析师蒂姆·马利根如是说。

 

Young viewers

年轻观众

 

Netflix is doing fine against traditional TV companies. Earlier this year, the BBC revealed that 16- to 24-year-olds spend more time with the US streaming service in a week than with all of BBC TV, including the BBC iPlayer. Youth-targeted shows such as Stranger Things and Thirteen Reasons Why have been major hits, but Netflix faces some of the same pressures caused by the rapid generational shift in viewing habits.

相较于传统电视公司,Netflix表现还不错。今年早些时候,BBC公布的数据显示:16到24岁的观众平均每周花在这家美国流媒体服务公司上的时间超过了观看所有BBC电视节目的时间,其中还包括BBC的iPlayer。像《怪奇物语》和《13个理由》这样以年轻观众为目标的电视剧已经大获成功,但收视习惯的代际差异变化之快,也给Netflix造成了压力。

 

The BBC’s research found that more than 80% of children go to the Google-owned YouTube for on-demand content (half also go to Netflix). Last week, media regulator Ofcom revealed that 16- to 34-year-olds spend more time watching non-broadcast content – such as streaming services, catch-up and on-demand TV – than traditional scheduled TV. YouTube was again found to be the biggest winner, accounting for the highest proportion of non-broadcast viewing in the age group.

BBC的研究发现,超过80%的儿童都会去谷歌旗下的YouTube观看点播内容(其中一半儿童也会上Netflix)。媒体监管机构Ofcom上周公布的数据显示,16至34岁的观众在非广播节目上(如流媒体、回放剧或付费电视)所花的时间已经超过了观看传统电视节目的时间。YouTube再度成为最大赢家,在该年龄段观众所看的非广播节目中占据了最大份额。

 

The BBC’s research found that children aged five to 15 spend more time each week online (15 hours and 18 minutes on average) than they do watching conventional or streamed TV (14 hours). All media is now in competition for attention, and online it is the Facebook-owned Instagram and Snapchat that are currently dominating the attention of younger generations.

BBC的研究发现,5到15岁的儿童每周上网所花时间(平均15小时18分钟)超过了观看传统节目或流媒体电视的时间(14小时)。所有的媒体都在竞相争夺观众的注意力,而Snapchat和脸书旗下的Instagram成为了目前备受年轻一代关注和青睐的网络收视大户。

 

Moving into sport and news

向体育和新闻进军

 

A key part of Netflix’s rapid growth is that it is cheap: the most popular £7.99-a-month package is seen by many as a bargain for access to such a vast range of content.

Neflix快速增长的关键之一是便宜:最受欢迎的包月套餐对很多人来说都是非常划算的价格:只要7.99英镑即可观看平台上的海量影视内容。

 

Last week, Ofcom revealed that subscribers to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon had overtaken numbers taking traditional pay-TV services such as Sky and Virgin Media for the first time. However, Netflix’s low-cost nature has meant that subscribers mostly choose to bolt it on as an additional option. Viewers mostly keep their main pay-TV subscription, which is more expensive but provides wider content such as exclusive football and news services.

Ofcom上周公布的调查显示,订阅Netflix和亚马逊等流媒体服务的用户数量首次超过了Sky和Virgin Media等传统付费电视。然而,Netflix的低价属性意味着大部分用户只是把它作为一个额外选项在使用。大部分观众仍继续订阅着他们以前主要观看的付费电视,虽然价格更贵,但提供的内容范围也更广,比如独家播出的足球比赛或者新闻服务。

 

Some analysts believe that Netflix needs to develop its content offering and become more like traditional TV companies in order to become a “must-have” service. “Netflix is the TV disrupter that everyone is watching to see what they do next,” says Mulligan. “To move to the next level they need to add global news and sport to their content offer.”

有些分析家认为,Netflix需要在内容品类上向传统电视公司靠拢,以期发展为用户“必备”的媒体服务。马利根指出:“Netflix是电视行业的颠覆者,现在各方都在关注它的下一步举动。要更上一层台阶,Netflix就需要增加世界新闻和体育方面的内容。”

 

Doing so would also justify the inevitable price rises that Netflix is having to introduce as it continues the race to cover its costs. The company is already experimenting in Europe with a high-definition “ultra” subscription, which costs €16.99-€19.99 a month in Germany and Italy. Traditional pay-TV companies such as Sky, which originally built its business on exclusive Premier League rights, charge up to £100 a month, though this also includes costs for landlines and broadband.

这样做也能让Netflix有充分的理由来采取不可避免的提价,因为它仍在继续努力创收收回成本。该公司已经在欧洲开始尝试推出高清“尊享”订阅服务,其价格在德国和意大利为16.99至19.99欧。Sky原本是基于提供独家英超联赛直播而成功起家的,现在像Sky这类传统的付费电视公司订阅费用可高达每月100英镑,不过这也包括了固定电话和宽带的费用。

 

“Netflix’s long-term strategy is that it has to increase its revenue from subscribers; it needs to move into those content genres to replicate the journey of traditional pay-TV companies,” says Mulligan. “You need a full suite of content if you want to be a real substitute, not just an additive service.”

“Netflix的长期战略是必须从用户身上获取更多的收益;它需要进军那些内容领域以复制传统付费电视公司的成功之路,”马利根说,“如果你想成为真正意义上的传统电视替代者,就必须拥有品类齐全的内容,而不仅仅是锦上添花的服务。”


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【卫报】“颠覆者”Netflix要向传统电视靠近?


<原文链接:https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/21/netflix-crown-beginning-to-slip-subscriber-numbers >


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