The ‘Domino’s Effect’: How Netflix Disrupted More Than Just Theaters

Marian Salzman
Oct 13 · 3 min read

The biggest innovations can have more impact than their inventors ever dreamed. I think we can be reasonably certain that Johannes Gutenberg had no idea his printing press would help to unleash the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment and now our knowledge-based economy. (Yes, Johannes, our endless workdays are on you!) His creation doesn’t stand alone. The camera, the telephone, the internet, the smartphone — each has proved revolutionary, setting off chain reactions that would ultimately shift the ground beneath our feet.

Some of these world-changing inventions can insinuate their way into our lives without us truly grasping their impact. Consider the seismic effect of video-on-demand subscription services, led by Netflix. The aftershocks are being felt by some of the biggest players across several sectors. Megabrands Disney, Amazon and Apple have transformed their business models, creating Disney+, Amazon Prime and Apple TV+, respectively, to compete with the Netflix upstart. Advertisers, who had been leaving TV in droves, abruptly reversed course and are now chasing this growing audience for streamed content.

And then there’s the impact on restaurants and food-delivery services. “Netflix and chill” has morphed into the trend of “event viewing” — occasions when families or friends gather to watch A-list entertainment at home. The NFL’s Super Bowl has long been linked to gorging on food (Bologna cake, anyone?), but now the approach has gotten more refined. People are actually pairing their front-of-TV meals with the programming, as you would with a fine wine. Perhaps a serving of Takoyaki octopus balls with an episode of Japan’s “Terrence House,” some sauerbraten to accompany a showing of “Babylon Berlin” or the elements of a British high tea for next month’s new season of “The Crown.” Count me in!

Our desire to turn living-room viewing into a social event has helped to fuel the latest disruption in the restaurant industry: technology-assisted food delivery. If you think this is just another case of Silicon Valley taking over the world, think again. Zomato started in India and now operates in 24 countries. Germany’s Foodora has a presence in 15 countries. Deliveroo has expanded beyond London into 13 countries in mainland Europe and Asia. And of course there are plenty of U.S. players, not least UberEats, which is expanding into the EMEA region.

You could trace the meal-delivery trend back to Domino’s, which was started in 1960 (before most of the founders of the aforementioned startups were even born). The ubiquitous pizza company now operates in 84 countries, but with a different business model from these other brands, since it’s tied to just one product.

Dine-in deliveries and binge TV streaming share a number of similarities besides their in-home location. Both are built on apps and choice. In most metropolitan areas, hungry users can filter restaurants by nationality, price, distance and user rating, and place an order quickly and easily from their phone or other mobile device. The delivery startups are able to aggregate a huge array of options into a searchable database and rely on low-cost drivers to keep things affordable. Similarly, content streaming works thanks to cheap high-speed broadband that can pipe in gigabytes of data without choking.

The net effect is to make in-home consumption easier, more convenient, more attractive and more positive than it was when cocooning became a thing in the 1980s. Staying at home has become not just a personal preference, but a global lifestyle with a range of services to both support and encourage it.

Now, what bagel would best go with season 1 of “Russian Doll”?

Marian Salzman

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SVP Global Communications at Philip Morris International — award-winning PR and marketing professional, author and trendspotter — popularized “metrosexual.”