Is Netflix the Biggest Threat to Corporate Training and Development?


Netflix Logo

It was truly one of the nicest compliments I have received in my more than 25 years of designing, developing, and delivering business simulation training engagements: “I have never heard a group of participants ever say they actually like the pre-work!” This comment came from one of the most innovative and well respected talent development professionals in the industry and I was thrilled to hear his comments and reaction.

The engagement we delivered last week was to a group of high potential leaders within the most profitable business unit of a large Fortune 200 organization. The design of the program was a “flipped classroom” - where most of the content is digested as pre-work and completed before participants come to the classroom and simulation exercise and learn-by-doing about the business strategy, financial management, marketing strategy, and people leadership needed to be successful.

I shared with our client that 34 out of the 38 participants successfully completed all of the pre-work (90%) which included testing and validation. He was even more impressed and somewhat amazed. I then shared something with him that drives me and our Advantexe eLearning design teams to innovative perfection. We believe the biggest competitive threat to participants that would take them away from doing their pre-work is not a lack of interest nor other work, but something even more difficult to combat: Netflix.


According to new report from Statista, Netflix has hit 65.6 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter with 42.3 million in the United States. Interestingly, 70% of Netflix’s growth in the quarter came from new international subscribers. Total revenues for the quarter was $1.64 billion while net income dropped by more than 60% to just over $26 million which is a return on sales (ROS) of 1.6%.

At the same time that Netflix membership is going up, so is the amount of time that teens are spending online. In another Statista report, almost 24% of teens surveyed indicated that they are online “constantly.”

Teen statistics

As people around the world spend more time on Netflix, and the teens who will soon be entering the workforce spend more time online, there will be less time for training – especially independent training like pre-work. Any training that employees participate in will have a higher standard and in essence must better than any movie, TV show, or other social media that can be streamed and deemed more fun or interesting.

So what is it going to take to beat Netflix and other online streaming for the mindshare of corporate training participants who want to spend less time in the classroom AND less time learning individually? If we continue with the concept of the flipped –classroom where pre-work is the delivery of the content and the classroom is for application of concepts, here are three things surprising things that we do to make it great and to impress our clients and participants:

1. Give them something unexpected
Our Introduction to Business Financial Management eLearning pre-session module isn’t just the same old thing; it starts to tell the story of the simulation they are going to run in the classroom and they have to figure out what is wrong with the business by understanding the financial issues.

2. Make it interactive
Nobody is going to sit through electronic page-tuners with voice-overs anymore. Participants want and need interactivity such as business simulations with embedded content.

3. Tie it back to their performance
The most important thing we can do to make pre-work great is to tie is back to performance. For example, we work with R&D scientists in a large pharmaceutical company. The eLearning that we provide them before they come to a one-day Business Acumen program illustrates their place in the business ecosystem, how they help the company make money, and how making the right decisions can help create more revenues and profit which will result in stronger compensation but more importantly increased funding to make new, and business-smart, future products.


Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.