There’s something bizarre about the streaming age. We’ve hit a point where some aspects are being dialed back to make it more financially safe. Up until now, Netflix had free reign over the industry and could invest wherever they see fit. We commonly could always expect a second season for any project no matter how good or bad it was. They also became the home for many series that ended up getting canceled; some even hoped that their favorite show could get picked up to this day as Lucifer did some time ago.
Yet, we’re not in that same era anymore. There’s so much competition out there with heavy hitters like Disney+, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO Max; the latter imploding in its own way. There are also various smaller offerings on the table trying to establish their own market with Peacock Paramount+, ESPN+, and many more. Even internationally some networks are establishing their very own streaming options to build their own markets. It’s slowly turning into a free-for-all that is making the investment quite a bit more difficult.
So, the question becomes how Netflix can establish itself in that market. Would they innovate to offer something unique like their attempt to try interactive games in the platform? Would it be to invest in more unique IPs like a Power Rangers cinematic universe or other popular IP like Avatar: The Last Airbender or even One Piece? They are doing all that but it’s being overshadowed by one simple fact: most of their new shows don’t survive beyond a single season.
We just got the news that 1899, a supernatural mystery series by the creators of Dark, has been canceled after one season. While some smaller releases simply don’t pull in an audience like Blockbuster and are more flexible with their format, it’s bizarre to see a high-investment like 1899 not even being given a longer run to truly bank on its entire mystery concept. The show was pitched with multiple seasons in mind and it pulled in an audience going by its performance on the streaming service. Yet, there’s no clear reason given on why the series was passed on.
Netflix seemingly wants to recreate the virality they’ve seen with select projects. To some degree, their strategy seems to be to throw out as many shows to ensure that one or the other manages to pull in some massive viewership numbers. Wednesday was a huge success, even managing to compete with Stranger Things. Yet, it’s an external production and may even end up on a new platform if they don’t invest enough money; adding more pressure to the series to keep up its high viewership with future seasons.
There is the other issue that Netflix doesn’t own all rights to their projects. There’s a reason that the various Marvel series left the streaming service with them having a prominent placement on Disney+. Wednesday even currently sits in an uncertain spot as MGM is now owned by Amazon and they could end up losing the rights to what would’ve been their next major hit franchise. Even The Sandman was on shaky ground due to it being a DC project and requiring Warner Bros. Discovery’s approval to move forward.
So, Netflix is slowly losing the projects that would make it stand out while nuking anything that would have a chance to grow throughout multiple seasons. But that’s not all, as viewers are slowly losing interest in whatever they are offering if this trend continues. Why even invest any time into watching their newest series if the chances of a show surviving are so slim? There’s also the fear that shows one is invested in like the live-action One Piece or Avatar: The Last Airbender if their chances to survive are so minimal.
Netflix opened up for transparency in how shows perform, but their actions don’t seem to fully reflect what they are looking for in how a series performs. Unlike Disney, they are far more dependent on the success of their series as they don’t fully invest in the merchandise until after it was proven successful; see how long it took before Squid Game or Stranger Things offerings found their way out into the market. Their wait-and-see approach goes against their high-investment gamble, as it creates a bizarre mixture of risk-averse actions with money being thrown out left and right.
Some franchises are given quite a bit of time such as One Piece being in some form of production since 2017. A Power Rangers cinematic universe is being developed for quite some time now as well, which would indicate they are in for the long haul. Yet, their recent actions don’t seem to truly match some of their investment choices. It creates this feeling of a lack of commitment to these projects they invest in, which reflects upon the viewers as well.
We also can’t forget Netflix’s desperate attempt to keep users from password sharing, which they hope would lead to an increase in subscribers. Yet, it doesn’t truly ensure any churn for the streamer, and may likely lead to some not wanting to return. It’s been ingrained into our culture by this point that it would push away subscribers without any true benefit for them to sign-up. At this rate, Netflix is becoming its own worst enemy and may push people away, as enough alternatives are on the market.