The High Stakes of Live Streaming

Netflix catapulted its way into our homes over a decade ago, and its binge-worthy scripted hits such as “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” had viewers not only captivated but disrupted linear TV viewership forever. Users felt liberated by this on-demand, binge model, and the industry caught on. It seemed the days of appointment TV were a distant memory, or so we thought.

Now, just about every media conglomerate has introduced their own OTT service, such as Disney, NBC Universal’s Peacock, and HBO and Discovery’s newly announced “Max.” With endless entertainment options and what can often seem like a cluttered market, streaming services compete for your attention and your dollar. Originally designed as a more affordable alternative to cable, many households now collect streaming service subscriptions that equate or exceed their original cable bill.

In recent years, Netflix set itself apart from its competition by releasing a constant stream of buzzy, elaborate, unscripted original programing including “Queer Eye,” “Selling Sunset” and “The Circle.” “Love Is Blind” premiered in 2020 and its popularity keeps growing. The success of the relationships showcased in “Love Is Blind” may be futile, but its viewership certainly is not. Nielsen ranked the show in the top ten, with 13.1 billion minutes streamed in 2022.

The 4th season of “Love Is Blind” premiered this year to its biggest viewership in the show’s history, and Netflix capitalized on that success by announcing a live reunion scheduled for Sunday, April 16. For weeks leading up to the reunion, Netflix promoted how revolutionary this live event would be for a streaming platform. The streaming service’s first live reunion and second-ever live broadcast presented an opportunity for Netflix to innovate in a space where traditional television has dominated. According to a Magnite survey, 44% of cable users would cancel their subscription if they could stream live sports and events.

Unfortunately for Netflix, it did not rise to the challenge. Shortly after it was scheduled to air, Netflix first announced a 15 minute delay. For roughly 90 minutes, viewers stared at “one moment, please” screen. During this time, all the “Love is Blind” fans flocked to social media sites searching for updates and explanations as to what was occurring. Ultimately, the show became available to viewers 19 hours after its planned launch. This major snafu was embarrassing for the streamer, to say the least, with its competitors opining on Twitter.

Many Twitter accounts chimed in with support or snark to capitalize on Netflix’s inability to execute this heavily promoted moment. Bravo, which is famous for its explosive reunion specials, tweeted “We would never keep you waiting for a Reunion 😉” While others were more supportive, Paramount+ tweeting “ Love may be blind but we SEE you, @netflix social team. Pouring one out for your mentions tonight.”  The most unexpected snark came from the now defunct Blockbuster account tweeting “Remember renting vhs’ from us. You could start it on time no problem…This is what we get.” Which is quite ironic considering Netflix historically began as a physical, deliver-a-DVD-to-your-house, content provider.

In an era when traditional TV seems like a relic of the past, the “Love Is Blind” reunion incident reminded would-be cord-cutters that the shiniest object isn’t always best. Even brands as big as Netflix make big mistakes when experimenting with new technology. Who knew that something as simple as airing a reunion could be more dramatic than the show itself?

Written by Senior Media Specialist, Brittany Lombardi, & Digital Media Specialist, Grayson Senner

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