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In November 2020, portions of Netflix’s French userbase were first introduced to a new service: a linear, TV-channel that plays through Netflix’s vast content library twenty-four hours a day.

If that sounds familiar – and maybe even a little nostalgic – then you have the right idea. Much like the TV channels the service has been stifling for over a decade, it does away with the effort of scrolling through reams of titles and, instead, is simply airing linear, Netflix content that has been pre-selected for a mass audience.

The service, while currently limited to a small portion of their overall userbase, signals a (somewhat unexpected) revolution within the broader scope of digital content services, and offers a fascinating glimpse of the ways in which online entertainment is changing.

The Ongoing Revolution for Digital Content

Netflix exists within an indomitable realm to which millions of people across the globe have access. The past few years have seen an unquantifiable rise in the sheer quantity of digital content available to us across a number of genres and platforms – all of which are being forced to rapidly alter the ways in which they attract internet users to their offerings.

Consider the vast quantities of free content – some of it produced to an incredibly high standard – on YouTube. YouTube’s content organisation algorithm has had to evolve dramatically over little more than a decade, simply to keep on top of the offerings and ensure that the right market finds the right video.

In the gaming industry, where much of the most lucrative content exists solely online – and physical media is rapidly disappearing altogether – the same holds true. The online casino industry, for instance, offers a perfect example, for its entire lifespan has been played out exclusively within the digital realm. Only the sites offering the best no deposit bonus codes and other introductory offers are able to achieve longevity within a landscape that has grown saturated with competing sites, and players struggling to find the most worthwhile content.

At the other end of the scale, the music industry is investing millions into content organisation and uniting the right listeners with the right artists. Spotify’s own algorithm is paradigmatic of the ways in which machine learning and user understanding on a mass scale are having to evolve; not only does it sift through every piece of big data garnered directly from users, but it also scours the web beyond its own perimeters in order to better contextualise itself within shifting markets.

Will it Take Off?

It is early days for the new service, but France is famed for preferring linear content over the watch-as-you-wish format offered traditionally by streaming services, which is likely why Netflix favoured that market over the US.

For many, it seems like an incredibly strange turn for Netflix to take. The service’s entire business model is predicated on the assumption that an all-you-can-eat approach to movies and television is better than organising ourselves according to a TV schedule. Watching a movie when we want to is preferable to waiting months – or even years – for it to air on TV.

You can, however, have too much of a good thing. We are likely all aware of the monotony of scrolling endlessly through movies and shows, and being so overwhelmed by the choice available to us that we cannot seem to settle on anything. In light of this, perhaps structuring some of our leisure time around the TV schedule would be a breath of fresh air.

And, even if the novelty wears off quickly, Netflix’s streaming service is not going anywhere. Whether we flock to it en masse, or simply make use of it when we cannot seem to decide for ourselves, it is a sure sign that digital content is peaking, and that the tech giants all need to seek new avenues through which to offer it to us.


Netflix Goes Linear: Is This Really Where the Entertainment Industry is Headed?
Digital Mag

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