Incentives & Their Effects on Products

Netflix & PrimeVideo are so different from YouTube as products, driven into different directions based on their incentives. Here are a bunch of observations

  • Netflix and Prime know their content. Which powers features like X-ray in prime and the ability to skip intros and recaps in Netflix. Even subtitles and episodes lists are better supported in the apps. Added value for users. YouTube, on the other hand, knows very little about the content which can add value to the users. Which is why it is heavily dependent on a recommendation engine, which also takes the user from videos on 1 topic to another. Disconnected yet interesting dots
  • Netflix and Prime just focus on the current video, YouTube shows you other videos as soon as you start the video. Thus the screen space is used in different ways. Netflix and Prime have a volume slider, YouTube does not (and it is an irritation)
  • The focus on the content allows Prime and Netflix to reuse the content in different languages, YouTube does not have that benefit yet. AI/ML might solve the problem, but I am not sure dubbing of user-generated content will work
  • Organization of the home screen is also driven by their individual incentives. You come back to series for new episodes in Netflix and Prime, so they are placed higher, YouTube showcases its recommendation engine.
  • Because they don’t need to show ads, Netflix and Prime allow Picture in Picture on the iPad, and YouTube does not.
  • YouTube original content strategy is always at risk personally, free content and subscription content are diametrically opposite. More on that here: https://ravivyas.com/2018/07/16/diametrically-opposite-skills/
  • UGC platforms like YouTube have the advantage of having content for everyone, but the big disadvantage is you need a constant stream of content, both to support creators and consumers, you can’t stop ingestion of new content. Which put a lot of strain on quality.

To end: Incentives always drive products and their features. Where you can, choose your incentives carefully.

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