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Netflix is a special company – the type of company that creates its own market space, rather than competing in an existing one. Netflix burst onto the scene in 1998 with a mail-delivery movie rental service that soon buried legacy rivals like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. In 2007, Netflix began to offer streaming video, essentially inventing the modern subscription streaming service.

Now Netflix is in an interesting spot. Its movie rental triumphs are ancient history, and now Netflix is taking on a slew of new challengers, including other streaming services and pay TV itself.

We've crunched some numbers recently as we've tried to get a sense of how Netflix is navigating these ever more competitive waters. We've found that Netflix is shrinking its U.S. catalog as digital rights become more pricey, but that the company has also brought its international catalogs into balance by increasing their offerings in places like Canada and Great Britain. We've also watched Netflix pour more money into their growing number of original series, and watched as viewer preference followed the money.

But almost as important as where Netflix is going is where its most loyal users think its going. So we turned to our sister site, AllFlicks, to get a sense of how Netflix's user base views Netflix's future. The good people over there put together this survey, which asked 3,000 AllFlicks visitors and Redditors to tell us how they thought Netflix stacked up against other major entertainment business spaces.

Netflix vs. Pay TV

One thing we were really interested in finding out is how Netflix users view the service in relation to the traditional pay TV model (this is a cord cutting site, after all). Netflix's subscriber base includes large numbers of people that still have pay TV, so its not strictly a cord cutting service by any means. And Netflix's CEO has pinpointed other streaming services in general, and HBO in particular, as the company's biggest threat – seemingly downplaying his company's battle with pay TV.

But Netflix's subscribers don't agree. They see pay TV and Netflix as opposed, and (as you might expect), they're betting big on Netflix to win.

Netflix vs. traditional TV

It's worth remembering that our survey group was somewhat self-selecting – AllFlicks is a Netflix-focused website, and as a result may draw Netflix's “power users” disproportionately. But this survey was conducted entirely independently of, so there wasn't any explicit cord cutting bias in the sample. In the end, the group of Netflix users we surveyed thought Netflix was likely to take down pay TV in much the same way as it once took down Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

Among those who disagreed, live sports was a rallying cry. “Netflix can't totally replace tv due to live sporting events,” one respondent wrote. “I'll be done with regular cable the day [Netflix] starts streaming live sports,” said another. Other users pointed to news coverage as a reason to retain pay TV.

Netflix Users Think Pay TV Is Doomed, But Will Still Pay for Movies

Our respondents were pretty bearish on the future of pay TV, but they believe that movie theaters will survive the great Netflix revolution. Less than a quarter of respondents were confident that Netflix could replace movie theaters, a far cry from the three quarters who were willing to bet on pay TV's demise.

Netflix vs. movie theaters

Just a few years ago, this result would have seemed obvious – Netflix only carried movies that had already run in theaters, so how much damage could they do to Regal Cinemas or AMC? But Netflix's new obsession with original content has led it to compete more directly with theaters. Just look at the big names that now star in straight-to-Netflix originals, or look at Netflix competitors like Amazon buying the rights to films at Sundance.

But there is a big difference between the Netflix experience and the theater experience. In terms of atmosphere, Netflix offers everything pay TV does – that is, nothing but your own living room setting. But, as one respondent put it: “The theater is still magical. Ya know?”

Netflix is certainly competing with theaters more than ever before, but our survey respondents weren't ready to bury theaters just yet. Might this result change in the coming years as the competition becomes increasingly direct? It's certainly something that's worth keeping an eye on.

8 thoughts on “76% of Netflix Subscribers Think Netflix Can Replace Traditional TV

  1. Ron says:

    Netflix can be much better company if Rogers, Bell and the others will stop cutting them to present the new TV shows and movies. In Canada the monopoly of few companies is got too far and has to ✋.

  2. Ron says:

    Netflix must come with new TV shows and movies. I prefer watching Netflix, but they have to put more staff on they plate like they do in the US.

  3. Ron says:

    Rogers and the other providers they just rip you off on prices and they are not honest, they need the competition.

  4. Shariyfah says:

    Netflix needs better choices of movies in Canada, furthermore, there are not many good quality black movies on Netflix. That being said I would still choose Netflix over cable TV especially here in Canada.

  5. Camille says:

    We had both cable and Netflix. Was paying almost 180 for cable, we were watching Netflix more than cable. It’s like why are we paying for cable when we’re not watching it so I dropped them.

  6. Luis Sotelo says:

    Netflix is having a great coverage all over the world and I bet for it. You’re doing a great job guys. I can only congaratulate you.

  7. Brian L. Helle says:

    I have Netflix and Hulu on my phone and laptop as well as Xfinity on both and home. I think (my opinion) since Hulu shows previous day shows they will be the front runner. Netflix could do the same thing but all they wanna run is outdated movies & TV series. Yes they both (Hulu & Netflix) have shows/movies I like & for the price per month $7.99 each you can’t beat it, but Netflix needs to come out with better movies.

    I know for a fact I wanted to get movies on Netflix on my phone & laptop but I couldn’t get any. They didn’t have them streaming to download only way to get a certain movie was get it through USPS and I’m a truck driver so I’m not home to get the movies.

    Come on Netflix get with the program of download streaming online.

  8. Edner says:

    Pretty sure they are not Brazilian subscribers…

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