Oh to be Netflix: on top of the world in many respects, but facing constant existential threats, picking fights with even bigger tech giants, having their firing practices scrutinized, tussling over the Oscars, and now being blamed for everything from weird ways of measuring audience sizes to--my favorite--the low birthrate.

Yes, the birthrate. We'll get to that in a second. But first, the existential threats, which appear in the form of streaming services coming soon from Disney and NBCUniversal. 

The emergence of these services will almost certainly result in Disney and NBC pulling content from Netflix. Perhaps surprisingly, eight of the top 10 shows on Netflix last year were reruns, with several Disney shows and the number-1, NBC's "The Office" at the top of the list.

Hence, Netflix's bold, $12 billion a year content acquisition budget, and the way it's decided to go head-on against Google and Apple--guiding users away from iTunes and toward the Netflix app--all to save the 15 or 30 percent commission that the true titans take.

And, hence its unusual way of selectively revealing audience numbers.

In terms of sheer virality, however, I think the latest thing Netflix has been accused of takes the prize: Writing in The Wall Street Journal this week, Shalini Ramachandran pinned the blame for Americans' shrinking sex lives on their growing Netflix feeds.

The Journal commissioned a study last month that they say showed 25 percent of people had avoided "Netflix and chill" so to speak, so that they could skip the "nudge-nudge, wink-wink, knowwhatImean" euphemism and literally just watch Netflix and chill.

The Journal concedes that they're using "Netflix" here in part as shorthand for Amazon, Hulu, HBO, and all the rest. But, it's true that the birth rate has dropped big time.

And just to get a little cyclical here:

Lower birth rate would mean fewer kids, which ultimately means fewer adults, which means fewer people to watch Netflix, which means Netflix needs to squeeze even more hours out of existing viewers, which means a still lower birth rate, etc., etc., etc.

So there you have it: The world is coming to an end, and it's all Netflix's fault.

Published on: Apr 25, 2019
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