Netflix – Less Is More

I know, I know I said I’d write part 3 of the BDD post. I promise I’ll get to it.

But recently I started watching a new Netflix show that got me thinking. It’s called Castlevania. It completely appeals to the Dungeons and Dragons playing geek in me, everyone should watch it.

But what I thought was interesting was how the show aired. I was told about this show by my friend, he was complaining that as he was just getting into it, IT ENDED.

Netflix has trained us to binge our TV, we can’t wait week to week anymore. They drop whole seasons at once, they even autoplay the next episode. That’s what I thought was interesting about Castlevania. They only made 4 episodes.

Now recently Netflix has been cancelling some of their shows. So I thought that maybe only releasing 4 episodes of this was a kind of taster. I found a cool quote from the CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings on cancelling shows. He said, “I’m always pushing the content team. We have to take more risk. You have to try more crazy things. Because we should have a higher cancel rate overall.” This is amazing lean thinking, keep trying new things, fail often and learn from it.

After watching the show, I totally agreed with my friend. So I took to facebook to see what everyone else is thinking. I found this:

Pasted image at 2017_07_25 02_51 PM (1)

Loads of people demanding more of the show. Don’t believe me, give it a google. Check out the reddit page, or the rotten tomatoes reviews. Now I am not claiming to understand why there was only 4 episodes. I know that kind of animation is hard to produce and takes a lot of time. But after reading the CEO’s comments, I would like to think this is a minimum viable product of sorts. Get your users addicted to binge watching TV, then only release a few episodes. Then just wait for feedback. If nobody replies, you have only wasted the time it takes to make 4 episodes. But if people demand more, well you can start working on more.

It looks like it worked. As you can see if the screenshot above Netflix are making 8 more episodes. So what can we learn from this?

Fast feedback is the key. Are we building a big feature currently? Does it really need everything? Would it make more sense to have something simple that just shows the basic idea? It doesn’t need to look pretty (my designer friends will hate me for that). Once it shows off something new, it can be used for feedback. All the rest can be done with the customer who is interested. Maybe the cool new feature you are building is actually not going to sell, it would be great to find that out early.

Let me know what you think.