The elephant in the room is the quality of the programming. “The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable”, Elon Musk taunted on Wednesday, perhaps after learning of Netflix’s upcoming comedy-drama series “He’s Expecting”, about a man who becomes pregnant.
The Obamas and the Sussexes were meant to be inspired investments – superstar names that would prompt a flood of new customers while convincing millions of existing subscribers to pay extra for exclusive podcasts.
But surely the pull of Barack Obama is in hearing more about the landmark moments of his eight years as the most powerful head of state on the planet, not the self-indulgent eight-episode collaboration with Bruce Springsteen that listeners were treated to instead.
Did the brains at Spotify think serious political discussion was beyond the majority of its subscriber-base or did they allow themselves to bend too willingly to the whims of one of its biggest stars?
Similarly, one wonders about the thinking that persuaded Spotify to commission a podcast from Meghan that aims to “dissect, explore, and subvert the labels that hold women back.” Ditto, how Netflix concluded that it would be a smart idea to allow the Duchess to make an animated series for children about a 12-year-old girl called Pearl.
No wonder that royal commentators are warning of possible pressure from Netflix executives for more “royal content” from Harry and Meghan, though given their car crash interview with Oprah Winfrey, perhaps even that is best avoided.
Presumably the halving of Spotify’s share price since the start of the year was what persuaded it to stick with controversial commentator Joe Rogan. Rather than allowing the creative community to decide what’s good or acceptable, the company appears to want the listening figures to do the talking.
As the battle for customers becomes ferociously intense, the addiction to performative big-name fluff will need to be ditched – otherwise the giants of streaming land risk eating themselves in a frenzy fit for the silver screen.