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Opinion: the problem with Netflix

Jan 17, 2023

Netflix has a waste problem. I’m not referring to plastic or carbon emissions, I’m talking about shows. 

In 2022 alone, Netflix canceled 31 series. Compare that to around 20 by HBO Max and seven by Hulu. Of these 31 shows, just under half were canceled after only one season. 

When looking at some of these titles, one can only question the quality of Netflix’s writing model.

Poorly executed reboots like the live action “Cowboy Bebop” and “Fate: The Winx Saga” all indicate laziness. “Resident Evil,” a series based on a popular horror video game, received a 26% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes. Each show failed to meet the standards of the original media it was based on, so the group intended to bring in viewership disappeared. 

Additionally, across the internet, fans complain about their new favorite show being murdered due to a lack of profit.

“Everything Sucks!” “American Vandal,” “I Am Not Okay With This,” “The Society,” “Grand Army,” and “1899” are all great examples of fan bases being crushed by cancellations.

Nothing is allowed to gain traction anymore. 

There are two primary issues influencing this failure. The first is an excessive production of low quality content. 

The following are just a few of the shows Netflix has canceled since 2020 after only one season.

“Teenage Bounty Hunter,” “Away,” “Hoops,” “The Irregulars,” “The Imperfects,” “Jupiter’s Legacy,” “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me,” “The Crew,” “Country Comfort,” “Cursed,” “Hit & Run,” “Archive 81,” “On the Verge,” “Pretty Smart,” “Q-Force,” “The Midnight Gospel,” “First Kill,” “Partner Track,” “The Midnight Club,” “The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself,” “Warrior Nun,” and “Inside Job.”

None of these titles were familiar to me until now. Why should they, there’s 22 and they all sucked on some level. 

Due to this oversaturation of shows, Netflix can’t focus their time and funds on promoting anything besides their few trusted programs (i.e. “Stranger Things”). 

Compare this to HBO. Talent and time is put into fewer projects, and subsequently gained the network a higher revenue in 2022. Netflix’s market value decreased by about $210 billion over the course of last year, losing 970,000 subscribers. In contrast, HBO Max ended the year up $13.1 million. 

In 2022, HBO received 35 more Emmy nominations than Netflix despite releasing fewer shows. 

This quality over quantity tactic has proven highly effective in HBO’s marketing strategy. 

For their 2022 series “Winning Time,” HBO created a Lakers inspired basketball court in Inglewood, California to promote the show. 

Entertainment marketing executive at HBO, Steven Cardwell, stated that he approached the marketing for “Game of Thrones” spinoff, “House of the Dragon,” differently than with its original.

“In our partnership with Snapchat, we’re partnering with global creators to create special markers all over the world, with the idea of driving kind of this massive cultural global moment around this show,” said Cardwell. 

The classic marketing strategy of cable television doesn’t apply to streaming platforms. Before, a show would get promoted during commercial breaks. It is clear Cardwell and his team understand the importance of innovation in this new age of streaming. 

“We’re more fractured in our viewing habits now. There are a lot more streamers and there’s just more competition for eyeballs and it’s hard to create these big tentpole, monolithic, cultural moments. That just requires tentpole-level marketing to really generate that demand and excitement for the franchise,” said Cardwell.

With the exception of a few hits like “Stranger Things” or “Outerbanks,” Netflix relies purely on users finding their vast catalog of shows via the platform. With such a massive amount of media, it’s difficult to discover new series unless one is actively searching for them.

Some credit Netflix’s poor marketing to the binge-watch-model that originally made them popular. When all episodes are dropped at once, these shows have no way of garnering discussion on social media in the way HBO’s “Euphoria” or “The White Lotus” do by releasing on a weekly basis.

It’s clear Netflix’s entire approach to modern television production needs a massive adjustment. They’re no longer the only players, with new platforms like Paramount Plus and Peacock aiming to get a piece of the streaming pie. 

Netflix recently hired a new chief marketing officer, Marian Lee. Perhaps this change in command will propel the network into a more successful 2023.

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