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5 Things Netflix Streaming Can Teach Higher Ed
October 26, 2010 - 8:45pm

5 Things Netflix Streaming Can Teach Higher Ed:

1. Replace Yourself: Offering unlimited streaming for $8.99 a month (1 physical DVD out at a time) may seem like the best way to cannibalize a core business of charging people $16.99 a month for 3 DVDs. But Netflix knew that if it did not take this step then someone else would. Much better to grow the customer base by offering a superior product at a good price than to try to hold on to a limited number of customers using a legacy product. Where can we replace ourselves in higher ed, before someone else does it for us?

2. Service Tomorrow: In moving from sending discs by the USPS to offering unlimited streaming, Netflix is positioning its service for tomorrow. Nobody doubts that in the medium term the physical discs sent in the mail will go away. Netflix is smart to build up their service, brand, technology, know-how and technology for tomorrow's customers - even if this leaves some money on the table for today. Do we have a good idea how education will be constructed, delivered and consumed in the future?

3. Experience, Not Technology: Subscribing to Netflix is about watching movies, not about putting shiny discs into players. According to Wikipedia, Netflix offers 17,000 movies "on demand" (streaming) compared to 100,000 physical discs available for rental. The streaming catalogue will continue to grow, quickly moving to replace the mailed service. The focus is on the movies, not the delivery mechanism. Netflix creates a great movie watching experience, and lets the customer choose the method in which the movies will be consumed. How can we in higher ed focus on the experience of learning, as opposed to the delivery mechanism?

4. Be Fearless: I'm betting that moving to an unlimited streaming model was a scary proposition for Netflix, as it subverts its core business model (the more you pay, the more movies you get). But Netflix was somehow able to move beyond their fears and offer the service. How can we be more fearless in higher ed, and be willing to take risks for our students?

5. Design For Your Customer: Streaming Netflix is available on multiple devices, from game consoles to dedicated streaming players, to blue-ray players, to HDTV sets (built-in), to home theaters and mobile devices. The iPad app is amazing. Are we in higher ed offering enough choices for how our students' want consume and participate in learning?

What do you think Netflix streaming can teach us in higher ed?


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