Netflix - a zebra among horses: QUT researcher

September 10, 2020

Media studies expert Professor Amanda Lotz, from QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre, said there is a lot of misunderstanding about the world’s biggest internet-distributed video service.

“Netflix must be examined as a zebra among horses,” said Professor Lotz who is in the middle of a three-year Australian Research Council Discovery Project - Internet-distributed television: Cultural, industrial and policy dynamics. She recently published an article in the International Journal of Cultural Studies - In Between the Global and the Local: Mapping the Geographies of Netflix as a Multinational Service.’

“Few recognize the extent to which Netflix has metamorphosed into a global television service. Unlike services that distribute only US-produced content, Netflix has funded the development of a growing library of series produced in more than 27 countries, across six continents, including Australia.

“Netflix has regional offices now in Singapore, Amsterdam, and São Paulo. Last year it opened its Australian headquarters in Sydney.”

Along with QUT’s Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham and Dr Ramon Lobato, Senior Research Fellow, RMIT, Professor Lotz is investigating the impact of global subscription video-on-demand platforms on national television markets.

“Internet-distributed video services such as Netflix, have completely transformed the entertainment landscape and the competitive field in which free-to-air television operates, as well as turned the definition of ‘pay TV’ on its head,” Professor Lotz said.

“But the Netflix model has been the real gamechanger. Previously, the core business of channels like the BBC, ABC or NBC that commission and pay the lion’s share of production fees for series has been nation bound, even if those shows would someday be available to audiences in many countries.

“Netflix’s propensity to commission series in multiple countries, and then make them available to the full 150-some million subscribers simultaneously, is unprecedented and something no television channel could do.

“A local example of this is Hannah Gadsby: Nanettewhich has given the Australian comedian a new global profile. She now has a second Netflix show - Hannah Gadsby: Douglas.

“And although many believe Netflix competes with the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Stan and Disney+, none of these services show evidence of supporting multinational production at a scale comparable to Netflix.

“Our research project has compiled a database of series commissioned by Netflix (in whole or part) and their country of origin. We have found more than half of the titles are produced outside the US and initial analysis of Netflix original films suggests a similar pattern.”

However, Professor Lotz said Netflix could never develop the depth of content necessary to replace national providers, especially public service broadcasters central to cultural storytelling.

“It is difficult to appreciate whether some of Netflix’s peculiarity results from its global reach, business model, or distribution technology, but these are crucial questions to ask. And do these characteristics lead to the availability of stories, characters, and places not readily available? If so, this is a notable benefit to audiences,” she said.

“We should also ask how these characteristics affect opportunities available for writers, producers, and actors who might be rethinking the kind of stories that must be told to sell internationally.


“Appealing to audiences outside a commissioning channel’s country is increasingly necessary. Even if Netflix is unlikely to eliminate national providers, it is reconfiguring the competitive landscape.”

Professor Lotz also posted a blog series, Netflix 30 Q&A, in recent months that examines the differences of the SVOD business and how it allows Netflix different program strategies than linear, ad-supported channels.

“The long term and global rights the company seeks in its commissions have required significant changes in the remuneration norms for those who make its series, and it remains unclear whether the new norms amount to lower pay,” she said.

“National broadcasters worry about keeping up with the escalating fees Netflix can support for its prestige series’ and complain of an unfair playing field where Netflix isn’t subject to the same local content rules and other requirements.

“But business and cultural analysts must stop trying to shoehorn Netflix into the same category as linear channels and streaming services aimed at pushing US content abroad. Over its 23-year-existence, Netflix has evolved repeatedly. Perhaps this steady change fuels its misperception.”

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151,

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901,

Queensland University of Technology

Related Business Articles from Brightsurf:

3D printing -- a 'dusty' business?
3D printers are becoming increasingly popular. They can be used to create a wide variety of three-dimensional objects based on computer templates.

Business-to-business customers expect personal service in online chat
Companies engaged in business-to-business (B2B) sales are also increasingly moving their activities online, but their online chat services and customer interaction have not been studied much yet.

Entrepreneurs have different storytelling styles for presenting business
New pioneering research shows that entrepreneurs communicate to strengthen their professional image and stakeholder relationships -- and avoid blaming others.

Gender quotas in business -- how do Europeans feel?
Despite years trying to bring more women to the top boards of business, the proportion of women on the committees of companies is tiny.

Carbon dioxide capture and use could become big business
Capturing carbon dioxide and turning it into commercial products, such as fuels or construction materials, could become a new global industry, according to a study by researchers from UCLA, the University of Oxford and five other institutions.

How NASA is becoming more business friendly
A new case study demonstrates the steps being taken by the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) to make it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs to understand its needs and do business with it.

Finding the 'Goldilocks' level of enthusiasm for business pitches
Georgia Institute of Technology researchers found how long an entrepreneur displays the highest level of excitement during a pitch also plays a major role in predicting success in receiving funding.

Bosses who put their followers first can boost their business
Companies would do well to tailor training and recruitment measures to encourage managers who have empathy, integrity and are trustworthy -- because they can improve productivity, according to new research from the University of Exeter Business School.

Bacteria rely on classic business model
The pneumonia causing pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa has developed a twin-track strategy to colonize its host.

Even small gifts boost business
If a sales agent brings their customer a small gift, the customer is much more likely to make a purchase, a study by the university of Zurich has shown.

Read More: Business News and Business Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to