6 Netflix Facts that Church Leaders Need to Consider

1/3 of all “prime time” internet traffic is from Netflix. [ref]

We can’t ignore the popularity of Netflix. It’s a mixture of clever marketing, excellent deployment and being in the right place at the right time. In a move similar to what iTunes did in the music industry 10 years ago, Netflix has found a model that encourages people to pay for online content that some were accessing through bootleg means. It’s wildly popular and we need to understand what’s driving its attraction.

Netflix attracted a total of 4.88 million new customers in the first three months of the year, more than any other three-month period since the service’s debut eight years ago. [ref]

Momentum is pushed forward one small win at a time. To some people, Netflix might seem like an overnight success. In reality, they’ve been working toward this growth for years. The same is true in our churches. It takes years to build momentum to the point where the flywheel spins fast enough that it seems like there are more returns than the effort being put in. What small wins can you plan for this week or month that can repeat themselves over time to build momentum in your church?

Its expansion abroad was driven by “strong” growth in the more than 50 countries it serves. [ref]

Growth is accelerated by multiplication. When your church is gaining ground in your community, it’s a sign that it’s time to multiply. In the past, growth meant constructing a bigger building or moving to a larger location. But today’s leading churches think about going multisite at this point. By going into a “new market” in a nearby community, many churches see their growth accelerating. If a church has the opportunity to open many new locations, the growth can accelerate even more. Note that growth comes before multiplication. Simply going multisite in an attempt to grow won’t work. You need to nail it before you scale it.

Netflix’s subscribers, on average, are streaming nearly two hours of video per day. [ref]

The idea of “binge watching” is now mainstream. I was talking with a young leader who spent 13 hours last weekend watching all the episodes of a recently released series on Netflix. I’ve found myself just rolling from one episode to another on the service as well. Long-form storytelling is here to stay. Many of these series are actually very long movies released as episodes. In a culture where our attention spans seem to be shrinking, Netflix shows us that viewers will follow a good story and great characters over an extended period of time. If people get bored with what we’re talking about after just a few weekends at our church … what is that saying? Should we be producing additional content around our messages that allow people to dive deeper?

Netflix’s big quarter coincided with the return of House of Cards, an Emmy-winning political drama starring Kevin Spacey as a conniving U.S. president. [ref]

Original ideas win. The development of original shows is core to Netflix’s expansion efforts. They are investing significantly on bold projects that make them unique in the streaming landscape. What is your church doing that is uniquely you? What is your core message and how are you proclaiming it in a way that gets people’s attention and is different from anyone else? What’s unique to you? (I mean … you … as a leader.) How can your ministry leverage and accentuate that?

Netflix is investing in its recommendation system to pinpoint the content that subscribers are more likely to enjoy and that are unavailable on other services. [ref]

Narrowcasting is the future. There was a moment in history when it seemed like we’d all have massive large-screen TVs in our living rooms to watch the latest shows. Netflix is transforming our culture so that we watch our own selections on small screens. It’s personalized content rather than a community experience. Two people lying in bed watching their own shows on their own laptops has solved the problem of fighting over the remote. Churches are built on a “broadcast medium” approach. How can we customize our discipleship experiences so they start with the needs and wants of our people instead of aiming for the middle of the audience?

BONUS: The first “content” loaded on the Netflix platform was called Example Show … and it is still available. How weird is that? It’s dummy content … video, description, rating and all!

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.