Updated: Feb 11
How Netflix became a health business.
Netflix is mentioned no less than 14 times in my book Healthusiasm! This may sound weird for a company that basically is known for making "binge watching" a global phenomenon. But ever since 2017, Netflix has made numerous efforts to have an impact on the health of people. Sure, you may be familiar with the several dozen of health-related documentaries that are aired on (or even produced by) Netflix,... but there are several more initiatives worth mentioning.
Here are 3 remarkable actions:
1. Netflix wants to be come a part of your work out routine.
Netflix has become a household name in the past couple of years. It is essentially a storehouse for all types of content, ranging from movies and documentaries to TV series, that is available for a flat monthly subscription fee. But the online platform actually changed the way people watch television. In a time marked by on-demand services, Netflix created the best experience for a night on the couch. By collecting data on its users’ preferred series or movies, an algorithm will suggest the titles that best fit your personal taste. And once you click “play”, the episodes will roll one after the other without you having to leave your couch. Binge watching, the phenomenon of watching multiple episodes, has existed since series were distributed on DVD. But it wasn’t until Netflix hit the home screens that over 60% of the population using on-demand services actually began binge watching. Of course, staying glued to your couch can’t be good for your health. In a world that has been focusing on obesity for the past few decades, this new trend is not welcomed. Studies have even shown a correlation between binge watching and depression. The image of Netflix suffered quite a bit from this, because its link with binge watching was that strong. In fact, in October 2018 an Indian binge watcher made the news globally for having himself institutionalised for his addiction to Netflix. It was time for Netflix to come up with a first tactical health marketing move: you can now make your favourite series character into a personal – yet digital – coach that will oblige you to work out before the next episode can be unlocked, or that will pause your episode if you don’t keep up with the tempo of your exercises while watching Netflix. With this innovation, Netflix makes it possible to personalise your experience into a transformation. It’s unclear whether other health initiatives will follow, but this one surely was needed to manage their image in an increasingly health conscious world.
2. Netflix learns you how to meditate
Self-care is important more now than ever. That's why Netflix has partnered with Headspace for three original series in 2021 starting with Headspace Guide to Meditation which will debut on January 1, 2021. It explores the foundation of meditation and how it can help us be more present and less distracted in our daily lives. Over the course of eight animated episodes, Puddicombe takes viewers through the benefits and science behind meditation. Each 20-minute episode showcases a different mindfulness technique that aids in the practice of meditation — focusing on subjects such as stress, sleep, and letting go — and ends with a guided meditation at the finale of every chapter. The streamer will debut two additional series including Headspace Guide to Sleep and another interactive experience later in the year.
3. Netflix talks with real people about mental health on Instagram
Instagram and @Netflix deployed a co-branded live chat series in the US to help people maintain self-care and mental health rituals. "Wanna Talk About It?" aired on Netflix's Instagram account weekly on Thursdays at 7 PM and ran through mid-May.
Every week one star (Lana Condor, Joey King, Alisha Boe, Caleb McLaughlin, Jerry Harris, Ross Butler, Noah Centineo) talked with a mental health expert about self care during a global pandemic. Platforms are showing a growing interest in helping contribute to positive mental health. From Facebook’s ‘Community Help’ update to Snapchat’s early release of ‘Here For You’ to Netflix' release of a ‘Co-Watching’ feature (as Google Chrome extension).
Similar as to how every company needs to become a media company, I do believe that every company needs to be(come) a health(usiasm) company. Simply because it is too important for every one of us. Some might argue that Netflix is not really a health company, but their increased focus on health in the past couple of years clearly shows their dedication to this global human aspiration. And let's face it,... If Healthusiasm is really about making the world healthier and happier, then Netflix sure is pursuing that ambition. With their platform they can reach several hundred millions of people with health awareness, guidance and (even) assistance (see the examples above). There are very few companies that can have (or are having) such a broad impact.