With her win as best drama actress at the Golden Globes last night, Korean-Canadian actor Sandra Oh became the first Asian performer to get more than one of the trophies. It was a big night for her and the series Killing Eve.

And a big night for Hulu and Netflix. The former because it's streaming the first season of the show. And for the latter, because it applauded the win, even though it seemed to gain nothing from the act.

This might seem crazy to some. Especially after this exchange.

Some on Twitter seemed to think that Netflix had made some kind of mistake. And, who knows, maybe someone on the social media team had. If so, the recovery was brilliant. Just ask the people at Killing Eve who responded to the initial tweet.

You don't want to assume the world always splits neatly into two categories. But there is a broad contingent of people in business who think markets are utterly zero sum and that the only way to get ahead is for competitors to do worse. That is often a mistake.

In a mature commodity industry, in which everyone is selling equivalent products into a completely fixed market, that could be true. Or you might sell an array of products that engender loyalty among customers.

But those examples are rarer than they might seem. Most industries can involve innovation or even personal preferences. Some people might only buy clothing from one label, but they are unusual. Would you eat solely at one restaurant when dining out? Unlikely.

The same dynamic is particularly true in media. Who would refuse to watch any movie or television show that didn't come from one particular source? People are loyal to the products, not to the particular producers.

There is a secondary dynamic as well. Sometimes having strong competitors helps establish and justify a given market. When people see a set of businesses, they take them all more seriously, particularly as each will probably appeal to a different segment of customers.

Netflix did something smart--you could even call it emotionally intelligent. The company, or at least the social media team, acknowledged what is reportedly a fine piece of work, demonstrating its collective taste and engagement with industry developments. When someone asked about where to view the series, Netflix pointed to a competitor, Hulu, which had won the bid for Killing Eve.

With that, Netflix showed itself to be more interested in quality material and the interests of its customers than in shutting out competitors or finding a way to grind out another nickel.

Engendering a lot of good will, it also put Hulu and other streaming companies that want to compete in the position of having to occasionally point to Netflix as a source of entertainment.

It's like the scene in the movie Miracle on 34th Street when Santa tells a mother where to buy a toy the store was sold out of. It becomes a big PR hit that brings in profits and costs nothing. It's not like people would suddenly run away from the old Macy's.

No one is going to drop a Netflix subscription as a result. The company might even pick up a number. Consider whether your industry and company are potentially able to make use of some common courtesy and putting a customer's interests ahead of your own.

Published on: Jan 7, 2019
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