Netflix Launches a Print Mag to Go After Hollywood Gold

They started in physical media – as a DVD-by-mail company – then evolved to become a massive online streaming service and, most recently, media content producer. Now, Netflix is looking to physical media again as they attempt to earn kudos from the highly competitive Hollywood awards community.

“The world’s largest online TV network plans to publish a journal — with the working title Wide — to promote its programs and stars ahead of this year’s Emmys, the biggest awards gala in TV,” writes Lucas Shaw in Bloomberg. “The 100-plus page inaugural issue will include interviews, essays and features about and by people who work on Netflix series, according to emails reviewed by Bloomberg.”

It’s another excellent example of a brand reaching out in print to build the kind of deep exposure and engagement made possible by magazine content.

In the age of peak digital consumption, Netflix is looking strategically at print as a way to build credibility, trust and engagement. As relative newbies in the content production arena, Netflix aims to build their rep in print to help garner the kind of industry recognition is craves.

And they are going about it the right way, it appears, making excellent content a priority by hiring magazine pros.

“Netflix has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in pursuit of Hollywood awards, which help burnish the image of the streaming service’s still-young studio in the eyes of consumers and the entertainment industry,” Shaw writes. “Last year, the company tapped veteran publicist Lisa Taback to oversee its awards operation, and recently hired Krista Smith, an editor from the magazine Vanity Fair, to assist.”

It’s not all about the awards, either. As Shaw explains, the brand is looking at print as a strategic channel to promote their new content to the industry – critical in an environment where viewers are inundated with too much choice and way too much content.

“Netflix is testing different ways to promote upcoming titles to people in the industry and will distribute the publication at events it stages,” Shaw writes. “Last year, the company took over a building in Los Angeles for a month, hosting screenings and parties.”

Netflix has been present at the awards shows for a few years now, scoring Golden Globes for breakout hits like House of Cards, The Crown, and Stranger Things. In fact they’ve faced backlash from the traditional film industry, including criticism from Steven Spielberg who is seeking to have them shut out of Academy Awards contention.

Netflix posted a response on Twitter, saying it loves cinema and the people who create it.

“Here are some things we also love: access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theaters,” the company said. [And letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time.”

It brings up an interesting debate in the industry, to be sure … but we don’t have a dog in that hunt. What’s far more interesting to me is the way they’ve caromed from physical into digital and are now embracing a true multi-platform approach to their marketing.

When you want to understand what works in an industry that seems to change directions faster than the real housewives change partners, look to a brand that’s making it happen.