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17周年大视野精选
【高端限免】Are you still watching? Netflix and the future of streaming
流媒体的泡沫即将破灭?

The streaming company’s fall in subscribers is a moment of reckoning for media groups pouring billions into online platforms | 对于向在线平台投入数十亿美元的媒体集团来说,Netflix订户数量的下降是一个清算时刻。

It is a basic formula in the television business: make a hit show, renew it and lock in ever bigger audiences. But Netflix, which has spent more than 20 years upending the rules of the entertainment business, may have found a way to defy even this convention.
这是电视业的一个基本公式:制作一个热门节目,更新它并锁定越来越多的观众。但是,花了20多年时间颠覆娱乐业规则的Netflix公司,可能已经找到了一种方法,甚至可以挑战这种惯例。
This spring the streaming service will roll out the latest, highly awaited instalments of two of its most popular series, Ozark and Stranger Things. Yet instead of a boost to its subscriber base, Netflix said this week it expected to lose about 2mn paying customers in the coming months, thanks to a combination of intensifying competition, a maturing US market and its decision to increase prices at a moment when consumers are coping with rising inflation.
今年春天,这家流媒体服务商将推出其最受欢迎的两部电视剧《欧扎克》(Ozark)和《怪奇物语》(Stranger Things)的最新一季,备受期待。然而,Netflix本周表示,由于竞争的加剧、美国市场的成熟以及在消费者应对通胀上升的时刻决定提高价格,它的用户群非但没有得到提升,反而预计在未来几个月内会失去约200万付费用户。

Battle of the streamers: Amazon vs Apple

Amazon Prime Video

Cost: $14.99 per month

Subscribers: 175mn (estimated as April 2022)

Hits include: The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, Reacher, Good Omens

Apple TV+

Cost: $4.99 per month

Monthly users: 20mn (estimated as July 2021)

Hits: Oscar winner Coda, Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Severance

流媒体之战:亚马逊vs苹果

亚马逊Prime视频

费用:每月14.99美元

订户:1.75亿(2022年4月估计值)

热门剧目包括: The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, Reacher, Good Omens

苹果电视+

费用:每月4.99美元

月用户:2000万(2021年7月估计)

热门:奥斯卡奖得主《健听女孩》(Coda),《足球教练泰德·拉索》(Ted Lasso),《早间秀》(The Morning Show),《人生切割术》(Severance)

After years of bending Hollywood to its will, Netflix finally fell to earth this week as it revealed that its blistering, decade-long streak of subscription growth had come to an end. Its share price fell almost 40 per cent, leaving its market cap at about $97bn — down from $300bn in November.
在多年让好莱坞屈从于自己的意愿之后,Netflix终于在本周回归现实。该公司透露,其长达10年的订阅量增长势头已经结束。该公司股价下跌近40%,市值从去年11月的3000亿美元降至约970亿美元。
The news served as a gut-check for the streaming industry that has grown in Netflix’s wake. The company’s extraordinary success inspired many of America’s largest media conglomerates to launch or buy their own streaming platforms, including Disney’s Hulu and Disney Plus; Warner Bros Discovery’s HBO Max; NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Paramount’s Paramount Plus. Tech groups Amazon and Apple also launched their own streaming services and content studios in a bid to emulate Netflix’s groundbreaking model.
这一消息对紧随Netflix之后发展起来的流媒体行业来说,是一次勇气的考验。该公司的非凡成功激发了美国许多最大的媒体集团推出或购买自己的流媒体平台,包括迪士尼的Hulu和迪士尼+;华纳兄弟探索频道的HBO Max;NBC环球的Peacock和派拉蒙的派拉蒙+。科技集团亚马逊(Amazon)和苹果(Apple)也推出了自己的流媒体服务和内容工作室,试图效仿Netflix的开创性模式。
That model transformed the television and movie industries and launched a fiercely competitive war for subscribers. But the streaming industry’s growth rested on the assumption that there is a global market of up to 1bn households willing to pay for services. Now, some analysts say the actual market may be far smaller — and that it is time for a rethink of the streaming business that Netflix pioneered.
这种模式改变了电视和电影行业,并引发了一场激烈的订户争夺战。但流媒体行业的增长建立在一个假设之上,即全球市场上有多达10亿家庭愿意为服务付费。现在,一些分析师表示,实际市场可能要小得多,是时候重新思考Netflix开创的流媒体业务了。
Netflix’s subscriber warning was “almost like an acknowledgment . . . that this isn’t that great of a business,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst at MoffettNathanson and a longtime sceptic of the Netflix model. “It makes you really wonder if the media companies should roll back some of their ambition to be like Netflix.”
Netflix的订户预警“几乎就像承认……这不是一项伟大的业务,”长期以来一直对Netflix模式持怀疑态度的MoffettNathanson分析师迈克尔·内桑森(Michael Nathanson)说。“这让你真的想知道,媒体公司是否应该降低一些效仿Netflix的雄心。”

The content arms race

内容军备竞赛

The grim Netflix results appeared to signal the end of a lavish, experimental era of streaming characterised by fast growth, unrestrained spending and a healthy dose of hubris.
Netflix惨淡的业绩似乎标志着一个奢侈、试验性的流媒体时代的结束,这个时代以快速增长、不受限制的支出和适度的傲慢为特征。

Battle of the streamers: Netflix vs Disney

Netflix

Cost: $9.99

Subscribers: 221mn (as March 2022)

Hits include: Bridgerton, Stranger Things, Anatomy of a Scandal

Disney+

Cost: $7.99

Subscribers: 130mn (as Jan 2022)

Hits include: Marvel and Star Wars movies and TV shows, Disney and Pixar catalogue, Fox TV shows

流媒体之战:Netflix vs 迪士尼

Netflix

费用:9.99美元

订户:2.21亿(截至2022年3月)

热门剧目包括: 《布里奇顿》(Bridgerton),《怪奇物语》,《丑闻剖析》(Anatomy of a Scandal)

迪士尼+

费用:7.99美元

订户:1.3亿(截至2022年1月)

热门包括:漫威和星球大战的电影和电视节目,迪士尼和皮克斯的目录,福克斯电视节目

When Netflix launched its streaming service in the US in 2007, it was positioned as a new format that would free viewers from the stale conventions of mainstream television and the steep costs and rigid schedules of premium cable.
2007年,当Netflix在美国推出其流媒体服务时,它被定位为一种新的形式,可以将观众从主流电视的陈旧惯例以及付费有线电视的高昂费用和僵化时间表中解放出来。
Initially Netflix offered subscribers access to pre-existing movies and TV shows licensed from other creators. But in 2012, the same year it launched in the UK, it began developing its own content, scoring an early hit with the Washington political drama House of Cards. Netflix upended the traditional model of television by releasing all its episodes at once, rather than week by week, so viewers could “binge-watch” entire series in one sitting.
最初,Netflix为用户提供了从其他创作者那里获得授权的现有电影和电视节目。但在2012年,也就是它在英国推出的同年,它开始开发自己的内容,并通过华盛顿的政治剧《纸牌屋》获得了早期的成功。Netflix颠覆了传统的电视模式,一次性发布所有剧集,而不是逐周发布,因此观众可以一次性“刷完”整个系列。
The platform proved wildly successful. In the 10 years since, it has reached almost 222mn subscribers in 190 countries, up more than 750 per cent, and it became profitable for the first time late last year.
这个平台被证明是非常成功的。在此后的10年里,它在190个国家拥有近2.22亿用户,增长超过750%,并在去年年底首次实现盈利。
Netflix’s rise was aided by a long period of easy monetary policy and a historic bull market run, allowing the company to spend heavily so long as investors believed in the strategy. In an environment of low interest rates, investors searching for yield happily purchased Netflix bonds, funding the company’s spending spree on content.
Netflix的崛起得益于长期的宽松货币政策和历史性的牛市行情,只要投资者相信这一策略,该公司就可以投入巨资。在低利率环境下,寻求收益的投资者愉快地购买了Netflix的债券,为该公司在内容方面的支出提供了资金。
From 2018 through 2021, Netflix poured $55bn into television shows and movies as it raced to compete with major networks and Hollywood studios. Netflix’s push triggered an industry-wide land grab in which every company had to spend big to win. In 2019, Amazon splashed out $1bn on a single TV show — an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings said to be the most expensive show in history.
从2018年到2021年,Netflix在电视节目和电影上投入了550亿美元,与各大电视网和好莱坞电影公司展开竞争。Netflix的努力引发了全行业的土地争夺战,每家公司都必须投入巨资才能取胜。2019年,亚马逊在一部电视剧上就花了10亿美元——一部根据《指环王》改编的电视剧据说是有史以来最昂贵的电视剧。
“One of the reasons [everyone] invested so heavily [from 2017- 2019] was the theory that for the next two or three years, it was all about acquiring subscribers,” said the former head of a big streaming service. “That window of time was when people were going to make the switch. You had to get them. Netflix knew it.”
一家大型流媒体服务公司的前负责人表示:“(所有人)在(2017- 2019年)进行如此大规模投资的原因之一是,有一种理论认为,未来两三年,一切都是为了获取用户。这段时间正是人们打算转变的时候。你必须得到他们。Netflix知道。”
But the content arms race has only spiralled, as new, deep-pocketed players entered the market and people stuck at home during the pandemic boosted viewership numbers. US media groups are together expected to spend upwards of $100bn on content this year. Netflix alone accounts for $17bn of that.
但随着财力雄厚的新玩家进入市场,以及疫情期间被困在家里的人提高了收视率,内容军备竞赛只会加剧。预计美国媒体集团今年在内容上的支出总计将超过1000亿美元。仅Netflix一家就贡献了170亿美元。
These sums are “historic [and] precedent-setting”, says Tom Nunan, professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, and executive producer of the Oscar-winning film Crash. “These are the types of numbers more associated with the Department of Defence. From single companies like these it’s almost unimaginable — but the numbers are certainly unsustainable.”
加州大学洛杉矶分校(UCLA)戏剧、电影和电视学院教授、奥斯卡获奖影片《撞车》(Crash)的执行制片人汤姆•努南(Tom Nunan)表示,这些数字“具有历史意义,开创了先例。这些超大的数字,更像是和国防部相关的数字。单就这些公司而言,这几乎是不可想象的——但这样的数字肯定是不可持续的。”

Investors change channels

投资者切换频道

Until recently, Wall Street was cheering the lavish spending on streaming. After Disney unveiled a slate of Disney Plus programming based on Marvel and Star Wars properties in December 2020, for example, its stock briefly hit a record high.
直到最近,华尔街还在为流媒体上的巨额支出欢呼。例如,在迪士尼于2020年12月推出一系列基于漫威和《星球大战》的迪士尼+节目后,其股票一度创下历史新高。
But the sentiment has now changed. A canary in the coal mine moment for the streaming industry came in February this year, when Paramount executives announced big investments into their Paramount Plus streaming service and saw their share price plummet almost 20 per cent the following day.
但现在这种情绪已经改变。今年2月,流媒体行业的一个“金丝雀时刻”出现了,当时派拉蒙(Paramount)的高管宣布对其流媒体服务派拉蒙+ (Paramount Plus)进行大笔投资,次日股价暴跌近20%
Wall Street was unconvinced then that a shift to streaming would improve Paramount’s bottom line. But the Netflix announcement this month seemed to confirm something for investors: that no matter how great the programming, it is unlikely that the streaming industry will ever generate the kinds of profits that television and film groups made in the pre-streaming era.
华尔街当时并不相信转向流媒体会提高派拉蒙的利润。但Netflix本月的声明似乎向投资者证实了一件事:无论节目多么精彩,流媒体行业永远都不太可能产生电视和电影集团在流媒体出现前时代所获得的那种利润。
‘Stranger Things’: Netflix will roll out the latest instalment of the hit series this spring, but the streaming service still expects to lose about 2mn paying customers in the coming months
《怪奇物语》(Stranger Things): Netflix将在今年春天推出这部热门剧集的最新一季,但这家流媒体服务公司预计在未来几个月仍将失去约200万付费用户
“It’s absolutely a lesser economic model [than cable television],” said the former head of a big streaming service. “The pricing you have to get to in order to duplicate the [cable] market is astronomical.”
一家大型流媒体服务的前负责人说:“这绝对是一种[比有线电视]更差的经济模式。为了复制[有线电视]市场,你必须达到的定价是个天文数字。”
Netflix announced a number of measures this week to try to weather the slowdown in subscriber numbers. During Tuesday’s video call with investors, Spencer Neumann, Netflix chief financial officer, said the company would “pull back on some of our spending growth”, though company officials say it will continue to outspend its rivals in the industry on making new films and series.
Netflix本周宣布了一系列措施,试图应对订户数量下降的影响。在周二与投资者的视频电话会议上,Netflix首席财务官斯宾塞•诺伊曼(Spencer Neumann)表示,公司将“削减部分支出增长”,但公司官员表示,公司在制作新电影和电视剧方面的支出将继续超过业内竞争对手。
The company will also lift its long-stated opposition to advertising on the Netflix platform, with Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings suggesting a cheaper, ad-supported service could be available in a year or two.
Netflix还将取消其长期以来反对在Netflix平台上投放广告的立场。Netflix联合创始人里德•哈斯廷斯(Reed Hastings)表示,一种更便宜、由广告支持的服务可能会在一两年内出现。
“I’ve been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings said on Tuesday. “But as much as I’m a fan of that, I’m a bigger fan of consumer choice.”
哈斯廷斯周二表示:“我一直反对广告的复杂性,但我非常喜欢订阅的简洁性。虽然我很喜欢这个,但我更喜欢消费者的选择。”
A scene from Amazon’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Netflix’s push triggered an industry-wide land grab during which Amazon spent $1bn on the TV show — said to be the most expensive in history
亚马逊出品的《指环王》中的一个场景。Netflix的努力引发了全行业的土地争夺战,在此期间,亚马逊在这部电视剧上花费了10亿美元,据说是有史以来最昂贵的
But the biggest improvement Netflix needed to make, Hastings indicated, was improving the quality of its programming — the side of the business overseen by co-chief executive Ted Sarandos.
但哈斯廷斯表示,Netflix需要做的最大改进是提高节目质量——这是由联席首席执行官泰德·萨兰多斯(Ted Sarandos)监管的业务方面。
Analysts agree. “Netflix should be creating significantly more must-see TV series and movies that become ongoing franchises,” Rich Greenfield, an analyst at LightShed, wrote in a research note this week. “Netflix’s content, especially its English-language content, is simply not resonating relative to the level of spend.”
分析师同意。LightShed的分析师里奇·格林菲尔德(Rich Greenfield)在本周的一份研究报告中写道:“Netflix应该创造出更多必看的电视剧和电影,成为持续的特许经营。Netflix的内容,尤其是英语内容,与支出水平相比根本没有达到标准。”
This is where Netflix is facing the stiffest competition from its rival streaming services run by long-established content creators HBO, Disney, NBCUniversal and Paramount — not to mention wealthy Amazon and Apple, who are unlikely to need to rein in spending any time soon.
在这方面,Netflix正面临来自老牌内容创造者HBO、迪士尼、NBC环球和派拉蒙等流媒体服务竞争对手的最激烈竞争,更不用说富可敌国的亚马逊和苹果了,它们近期不太可能需要控制支出。
Sarandos, who has worked hard to weave Netflix into the fabric of Hollywood, sounded defensive this week about the need to improve its programming. He claimed that Netflix films such as Don’t Look Up, Red Notice and Adam Project are among “the most popular and most watched movies in the world” (though, as the company does not release viewing figures, investors will have to take his word for it).
萨兰多斯一直在努力将Netflix融入好莱坞,本周他对Netflix改进节目的必要性表示了捍卫。他声称,Netflix的电影如《不要抬头》、《红色警告》和《亚当计划》是“世界上最受欢迎和观看次数最多的电影”(不过,由于公司不公布观看数据,投资者无法从其他地方核实他的话)。
Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings has said a cheaper, ad-supported service could be available in a year or two to help stem the loss of subscribers
Netflix联合创始人里德•哈斯廷斯表示,一到两年后,Netflix可能会推出一种更便宜的、由广告支持的服务,以帮助遏制订户的流失
He reminded investors that the company was still the new kid on the block in terms of content creation. “We’ve been doing this for a decade,” he said. “That’s about 90 years less time than all of our competitors have been at it.”
他提醒投资者,在内容创作方面,该公司仍是一个新手。“我们做这个业务只有十年,”他说。“这比我们所有竞争对手所花的时间都少了大约90年。”
But Wall Street may have run out of patience. Already, some analysts are urging the company’s rivals to rethink their spending on streaming. Noting that Sony has been making money by selling its films and TV shows to streaming companies — the so-called “arms dealer” strategy — Greenfield suggested that some of the traditional studios consider giving up on streaming and become content suppliers instead.
但华尔街可能已经失去了耐心。一些分析人士已经在敦促该公司的竞争对手重新考虑在流媒体上的支出。格林菲尔德注意到,索尼一直在通过向流媒体公司出售其电影和电视节目来赚钱--即所谓的“军火商”战略--他建议一些传统电影公司考虑放弃流媒体,转而成为内容供应商。
“While it feels hard to fathom abandoning streaming ambitions with so much capital committed to original streaming programming over the next several years, we wonder if that is the hard decision management teams such as NBCUniversal and Paramount should make?” Greenfield wrote.
格林菲尔德写道,“在未来几年里,在已经投入这么多资金用于原创流媒体节目的情况下,很难想象放弃流媒体,但我们想知道,这是否是NBC环球和派拉蒙等管理团队应该做出的艰难决定?”
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