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Justin Fox

Netflix Wags Its Short Tail

The former poster child for the "long tail" has turned into a very different kind of business.
Netflix, past and future.

Netflix, past and future.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

In the 2006 business bestseller “The Long Tail,” author Chris Anderson depicted DVD-rental service Netflix as the poster child for the idea he was trying (quite successfully) to popularize. Anderson credited Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings with giving him the idea for the book, and he quoted Hastings at length describing how Netflix’s users were moving out the long tail of content:

So that was going to be the new content industry model. The limits to shelf space -- both physical and metaphorical -- that had long dictated media strategy and marketing were giving way to unlimited digital supply, and the business was changing accordingly. The blockbuster era (and not just the Blockbuster era) was waning, Anderson wrote, and “niches are emerging as the new mass market.”