It is safe to say that in the past decade, Netflix has created an online entertainment empire. With over 3000 movie titles available in most regions (and new ones being added every day), as well as around 700 Netflix Original series (so not even including the ones they licence from other networks), there is certainly no slowing down for the streaming giant.
With 105 brand new series (including the first Netflix produced season of series picked up from other networks) already released in 2020 alone – and 45 more lined up – Netflix Originals have become somewhat of a goldmine for the company. There is always something new to watch, always something new that’s trending, always something that could intrigue potential new sign-ups.
But with such high demand and production of entertainment, how long can these series go on for? When there is constantly something new shadowing, for how long can a Netflix Original series sustain itself in this sweatshoppy stream of Content?
Joe Keery as Steve Harrington in Netflix’s Stranger Things
For ages, the success of a television series was measured on the basis of the number of seasons it was granted by its network. Reaching 6 seasons being the crème de la crème. Comparing that to the regular life duration of Netflix’s shows, it gets a bit interesting.
Of the total Original drama and comedy series (145) only 8 of them have surpassed 3 seasons so far, with only an additional 8 3-season-series confirmed to be renewed for another lucky run.
Chart by Malin Evita, based off on this list of all current Netflix Originals & their status.
*This chart does not include specials, collaborations, continuations, nor their 62 miniseries as those were pre-determined to only last one season.
As you can see in the chart above, of the current 286 one-season-long series living on Netflix, only 18% have been renewed for a second season so far. Whilst only 15.5% of all current two-season-series have been renewed for a third season.
And yes. There is a problem with network TV series that go on forever – Supernatural, love, I’m looking at you – to the point where whatever quality and appeal they had at first is washed away through pointless fillers, cast-members calling it quits, writers being replaced, etc.
Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki in CW’s Supernatural
But what Netflix is doing isn’t quality control. 117 Original series have been made and cancelled within their very first season. Those were not miniseries, and not designed as such. I’m not suggesting that every series they make should go on for several seasons – it would be madness and chaos, not to mention expensive.
Instead, maybe they should just … slow down? One of the ways that Netflix has explained the reason for their short series, is by saying that the production simply becomes too expensive after a while. Now, of course, the budget is going to want to grow as the show does as well. But maybe that wouldn’t be that big of an issue if they didn’t seemingly treat every pitch meeting like a stripclub?Netflix: Anne With An E
There is a huge difference between a showrunner making the decision to wrap up their show because they know it has run its course and done what it set out to do (ie, Mike Schur with The Good Place), and Netflix saying “nope” out of nowhere – regardless of what the creator and writers had in mind – because they deem it probably won’t bring that many new viewers in at this point (ie, Anne With an E).
This is pretty much regardless of how devoted and loyal of a fanbase the show has as well. Nearly every time a beloved show is cancelled a #Save (insert show) starts trending on Twitter. Hell, I don’t think I’ve seen a single tweet from Netflix without a “#SaveAnneWithAnE” comment in the replies since that show was cancelled!
Not only that, but because of Netflix’s special contracts, other networks aren’t able to pick up the shows that they cancel until five years have gone by, unlike NBC – who were able to pick up Brooklyn Nine-Nine within 36 hours of FOX cancelling it.Netflix: Everything Sucks!
Bottom line is, this is not a much of a matter of “well, no one is watching this, so we probably shouldn’t keep making it”, and it most certainly is not a matter of quality over quantity. Netflix is a content farm. And yes, I’m going to be using the word “content” no matter how much it hurts, because that is what this has become.
Netflix Originals are not about any artistic depth or genuine quality of entertainment. It is about numbers. With a near average of 3 entirely new series released every week this year, there is always something to keep you around just enough for you to not cancel your subscription. No matter how trashy or boring 9/10 of them are, it is just too much content to say no to for such a small price of £8.99 a month, isn’t it?
It doesn’t even matter that for the majority of the time you will spend an hour looking through their movie selections, only to find yourself so overwhelmed by all the options that you just end up watching Community for the 15th time! The concept of Netflix sounds amazing and is just too good to not be a part of. But the contents? If you really look at it? For the most part, it’s a cheap and soulless cash-grab.
But I guess that is just business.