I'm beginning to dislike Netflix (re: Archive 81, 1899, Warrior Nun etc cancellations)

Mercurius

Legend
For this reason, mainly:


For me it started with the cancellation of Archive 81, a show I really liked but they cancelled after a single season. Thankfully it was relatively self-contained. But then it happened with 1899 from the creators of Dark, a series I adored. I hadn't watched 1899 yet because, like the most recent season of Entrapped, I was saving it up, enjoying having something I know I'll like in the queue. But evidently 1899 ended on a cliffhanger, so now I'm not even going to bother.

And now it is Warrior Nun, a show I only watched half an episode of and decided wasn't my cuppa, but is causing a Twitter furor. So while I'm not disappointed in its cancellation, I commiserate with fans who are.

So basically we're left with the phenomena of Netflix only renewing series that are not only popular, but popular very quickly. A high concept series like 1899 needs time to build an audience - it will never be an instant hit. I'm a good example of this: I didn't watch Dark until last year (2022), and then consumed all three seasons in the course of a couple months.

I am reminded of what happened to mid-list authors in the publishing world. Basically big publishers will only give offers to bestsellers (or close to bestsellers) and new authors, and then for new authors the clock is ticking, with about a three book window to see if they can establish a sizable audience. Mid-listers either have to find smaller publishers or self-publish.

The end result is a dumbing down and homogenization. There's still some range of diversity, of course, but not nearly as much as there could be, if profit margins were a bit more lenient (meaning, shows like 1899 probably still generate profit, just not as much as Netflix requires to continue).

Anyhow, mostly venting...
 

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payn

Legend
Didnt know that about Archive 81 total bummer. Im with you that Netflix seems to be having less and less stuff I want to watch these days.
 


gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
I canceled my account last February when they were raising rates and at the same time that thousands of others stopped using Netflix. I was only watching maybe one movie per month, so it was never worth it, due to my lack of using it. But then they became caustic with some of their releases, and I didn't want to support that...
 

JAMUMU

go, hunt. kill haribos.
I've likened watching modern Netflix to ouroboros swallowing its own tail. The whole service seems to be an example of Pop Will Eat Itself, and the same thing seems to be happening with HBO in the States. Nowadays if Netflix are making something I a) take it with a pinch of hemlock and b) refuse to get attached until I know whether it's gunna get cancelled or not.
 

Haplo781

Legend
For this reason, mainly:


For me it started with the cancellation of Archive 81, a show I really liked but they cancelled after a single season. Thankfully it was relatively self-contained. But then it happened with 1899 from the creators of Dark, a series I adored. I hadn't watched 1899 yet because, like the most recent season of Entrapped, I was saving it up, enjoying having something I know I'll like in the queue. But evidently 1899 ended on a cliffhanger, so now I'm not even going to bother.

And now it is Warrior Nun, a show I only watched half an episode of and decided wasn't my cuppa, but is causing a Twitter furor. So while I'm not disappointed in its cancellation, I commiserate with fans who are.

So basically we're left with the phenomena of Netflix only renewing series that are not only popular, but popular very quickly. A high concept series like 1899 needs time to build an audience - it will never be an instant hit. I'm a good example of this: I didn't watch Dark until last year (2022), and then consumed all three seasons in the course of a couple months.

I am reminded of what happened to mid-list authors in the publishing world. Basically big publishers will only give offers to bestsellers (or close to bestsellers) and new authors, and then for new authors the clock is ticking, with about a three book window to see if they can establish a sizable audience. Mid-listers either have to find smaller publishers or self-publish.

The end result is a dumbing down and homogenization. There's still some range of diversity, of course, but not nearly as much as there could be, if profit margins were a bit more lenient (meaning, shows like 1899 probably still generate profit, just not as much as Netflix requires to continue).

Anyhow, mostly venting...
Netflix doesn't care how many people are watching a show, only how many new subscribers tune in.

New meaning the account is like, a week old or less. It's a ridiculous business model.
 



Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
We're in the end stage of the streaming wars, where all of the super-expensive content (driven up in cost by everyone wanting a full channel of their own, full of their own content), loss-leader subscription pricing and people getting the heck out of their houses to do something other than watching streaming content is crashing together. (Bonus: Leveraged buyout for HBO means Discovery has to cut even further than everyone else.)

Any show or movie that doesn't make a huge profit is gone. That means a lot of the idiosyncratic stuff is particularly in trouble. This is what the end of a golden age feels like.

The good-ish news is that one or more players are likely to quit the field in the next 18 months, meaning that content costs will go down and the remaining streaming channels will likely pick up a bunch of now-available content. Separately, Disney is also apparently going to finally merge Disney+ and Hulu, which already share content everywhere outside the US. So by 2025, there will be fewer subscriptions to juggle, and they should have more content, although they're likely to be more mainstream-friendly offerings and be higher in price.
 

payn

Legend
We're in the end stage of the streaming wars, where all of the super-expensive content (driven up in cost by everyone wanting a full channel of their own, full of their own content), loss-leader subscription pricing and people getting the heck out of their houses to do something other than watching streaming content is crashing together. (Bonus: Leveraged buyout for HBO means Discovery has to cut even further than everyone else.)

Any show or movie that doesn't make a huge profit is gone. That means a lot of the idiosyncratic stuff is particularly in trouble. This is what the end of a golden age feels like.

The good-ish news is that one or more players are likely to quit the field in the next 18 months, meaning that content costs will go down and the remaining streaming channels will likely pick up a bunch of now-available content. Separately, Disney is also apparently going to finally merge Disney+ and Hulu, which already share content everywhere outside the US. So by 2025, there will be fewer subscriptions to juggle, and they should have more content, although they're likely to be more mainstream-friendly offerings and be higher in price.
Get ready to patch that cord lol.
 

JThursby

Adventurer
You realize that's likely not in their control? If Paramount wants to have Trek content on their own service to draw viewers, there's no much Netflix can do about it.
What is and isn't in their control is not my concern, it is the value a Netflix subscription represents to me. Right now, it's only worth getting for a month in a year to watch the select few Netflix originals that are actually good (Arcane from 2021, Edgerunners from last year). If they can't justify the price of their service to me, I'm just not gonna bother with it.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
@Mercurius You're not wrong, but you're also not right. IMO. Let me explain-

There was a golden time, some years ago, before every other media company had their own streaming service. Netflix had (or it seemed like they had) all the content. (Stage 1)

Then there was the great retrenchment and expansion, as the vast media companies both clawed back their libraries and spent untold sums of money buying and making more content to compete with Netflix. (Stage 2)

We are now in the third stage- suddenly, Wall Street isn't just rewarding growth. Companies that were freely spending on any and all content can't do that any more. Serious questions are being asked about streaming services that once seemed like the invincible or inevitable competitors of Netflix (I've covered HBOMax's problems in detail, and Disney+ is embroiled in controversies that are reaching a boiling point given the massive streaming losses, and so on). (Stage 3)

Netflix is still chugging along, no longer the amazing "everything provider" they were in Stage 1, but also not the throwing money at everything streamer and supported by a constantly-increasing stock price of Stage 2. But the question is- what is the value proposition that they are providing?

The answer, unfortunately for many of us, is that they are succeeding largely by appealing to the majority of people- in keeping them on with "good enough" programming, sprinkled with some occasional "event TV." Here's the Top 10 from the past year-
  1. Stranger Things season 4 (1.87 billion hours)
  2. Wednesday season 1 (1.314 billion hours)
  3. Dahmer (962.4 million hours)
  4. Bridgerton season 2 (775.2 million hours)
  5. All of Us Are Dead season 1 (659.5 million hours)
  6. Extraordinary Attorney Woo (662 million hours)
  7. Inventing Anna (654.5 million hours)
  8. The Watcher (395 million hours)
  9. The Sandman season 1 (393.1 million hours)
  10. Virgin River season 4 (304.8 million hours)

Of these, we can see a few things- first, that Netflix's emphasis on foreign TV (Squid Games was 2021, this year was All of Us Are Dead and Extraordinary Attorney Woo) continues to pay dividends. But the "high-concept" shows ... well, there is Stranger Things S4 and Sandman S1. And that's about it.

Netflix continues to support a lot of inventive TV (I enjoyed Alice in Borderland), but they are really likely to pull the plug earlier rather than later. But that doesn't make them unique, unfortunately- I think this is simply a reflection of where streaming is going. We have arguably moved past the point of Peak TV.
 



Mercurius

Legend
@Mercurius You're not wrong, but you're also not right. IMO. Let me explain-

There was a golden time, some years ago, before every other media company had their own streaming service. Netflix had (or it seemed like they had) all the content. (Stage 1)

Then there was the great retrenchment and expansion, as the vast media companies both clawed back their libraries and spent untold sums of money buying and making more content to compete with Netflix. (Stage 2)

We are now in the third stage- suddenly, Wall Street isn't just rewarding growth. Companies that were freely spending on any and all content can't do that any more. Serious questions are being asked about streaming services that once seemed like the invincible or inevitable competitors of Netflix (I've covered HBOMax's problems in detail, and Disney+ is embroiled in controversies that are reaching a boiling point given the massive streaming losses, and so on). (Stage 3)

Netflix is still chugging along, no longer the amazing "everything provider" they were in Stage 1, but also not the throwing money at everything streamer and supported by a constantly-increasing stock price of Stage 2. But the question is- what is the value proposition that they are providing?

The answer, unfortunately for many of us, is that they are succeeding largely by appealing to the majority of people- in keeping them on with "good enough" programming, sprinkled with some occasional "event TV." Here's the Top 10 from the past year-
  1. Stranger Things season 4 (1.87 billion hours)
  2. Wednesday season 1 (1.314 billion hours)
  3. Dahmer (962.4 million hours)
  4. Bridgerton season 2 (775.2 million hours)
  5. All of Us Are Dead season 1 (659.5 million hours)
  6. Extraordinary Attorney Woo (662 million hours)
  7. Inventing Anna (654.5 million hours)
  8. The Watcher (395 million hours)
  9. The Sandman season 1 (393.1 million hours)
  10. Virgin River season 4 (304.8 million hours)

Of these, we can see a few things- first, that Netflix's emphasis on foreign TV (Squid Games was 2021, this year was All of Us Are Dead and Extraordinary Attorney Woo) continues to pay dividends. But the "high-concept" shows ... well, there is Stranger Things S4 and Sandman S1. And that's about it.

Netflix continues to support a lot of inventive TV (I enjoyed Alice in Borderland), but they are really likely to pull the plug earlier rather than later. But that doesn't make them unique, unfortunately- I think this is simply a reflection of where streaming is going. We have arguably moved past the point of Peak TV.
Sure, though I'm not sure how this means I'm "also not right." Meaning, how does this conflict with what I wrote?

But yeah, one of Netflix's saving graces is their "emphasis on foreign TV," which works for folks like me who like Nordic Noir and rando European supernatural thrillers like Black Spot (one of my faves).

What I see is a bit of a shot-gun approach, and using a full season in a way that TV studios used to use pilots: tests to see audience response, in this case how many subscribers might be lured in. It is crazy to think of the amount of money involved, that a series like 1899 could be made--costing tens of millions to produce--with the idea that it will be dropped if it doesn't bring in enough just a few months after airing.

But if the test is how many new subscribers come on board, it is a crazy approach in the long-term -- as @Haplo781 said -- because it only looks at the quick return of a few months time (or whatever). Seems horrendously over-simplistic and short-sighted.

p.s. I'm not sure I'd call Stranger Things and Sandman "high concept." They're more "middle concept", imo; they include elements of high concept, but the focus is really on "middle concept" elements. In ST's case, it is the teen dramedy and genre action adventure, in Sandman it is the emo-gothic drama. Archive 81 and 1899 (as far as I can tell) are a bit more focused on the higher concept elements. This isn't a castigation of ST and SM; in a way, it is simply a more successful formula. In a similar sense that the main reason GoT was a cultural phenomena was not because it was fantasy, but because of the other elements - the characters, the political machinations, the wars, the blood and boobs, etc. Fantasy was simply the contextual milieu in which it took place. Misunderstanding this is why the post-GOT fantasy tv landscape is largely mediocre to poor, as if the showrunners think, "All we've got to do is give them dragons, pointy ears and shiny things, and they'll eat it up. Story, dialogue and characterization...who cares?"
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Also, for everyone, there's a note...

Historically, the majority of shows don't get a second season.

Let us see some data on that - the below is from The Hollywood Reporter, data is for broadcast networks:

SeasonNew scripted showsRenewedCanceledFailure rate
2009-1033132060.6%
2010-1137102773.0%
2011-1244162863.6%
2012-1339132666.7%
2013-1444133170.5%
2014-1546222452.2%
2015-1644172761.4%
2016-1746232350.0%
2017-1839182153.8%
2018-19*37181129.7%
Totals40916323858.2%

If we drop that one anomalously low 2018-19 season, over 60% of new shows fail.

So, yeah, Netflix cancels a lot of shows after one season. But, so does everyone. The field is extremely competitive, so a lot of stuff gets axed to take a shot at finding the next big hit.
 
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Mercurius

Legend
Also, for everyone, there's a note...

Historically, the majority of shows don't get a second season.

Let us see some data on that - the below is from The Hollywood Reporter, data is for broadcast networks:

SeasonNew scripted showsRenewedCanceledFailure rate
2009-1033132060.6%
2010-1137102773.0%
2011-1244162863.6%
2012-1339132666.7%
2013-1444133170.5%
2014-1546222452.2%
2015-1644172761.4%
2016-1746232350.0%
2017-1839182153.8%
2018-19*37181129.7%
Totals40916323858.2%

If we drop that one anomalously low 1018-19 season, over 60% of new shows fail.

So, yeah, Netflix cancels a lot of sows after one season. But, so does everyone. The field is extremely competitive, so a lot of stuff gets axed to take a shot at finding the next big hit.
Which begs the question: What did sows ever do to Netflix? Moo too loudly?

On a serious note, this is useful information, but it leaves out a crucial part: how many of those shows were conceived of as episodic vs. parts of a singular story told over multiple seasons? 1899 ended on a cliffhanger; Archive 81 was a bit cleaner, but clearly part of a larger story.

So what seems strange to me, or where I think Netflix could improve on, is requiring new series to be at least relatively self-contained in the first season. Meaning, if they're going to be "cancel-happy," they should probably make sure that 1899 debacles don't happen too frequently, or at all.
 


Mallus

Legend
I’m still mad at them for canceling The OA and Sense8!

I also finally unsubscribed for a while. I’ll be back for Stranger Things, and Sandman whenever season 2 hits. Finally (trying) to take advantage of how easy it is to shuffle streaming services.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Which begs the question: What did sows ever do to Netflix? Moo too loudly?

Um... you need a new "See 'n Say"? Sows don't moo. They oink.

On a serious note, this is useful information, but it leaves out a crucial part: how many of those shows were conceived of as episodic vs. parts of a singular story told over multiple seasons? 1899 ended on a cliffhanger

You can't have one without some element of the other, but I saw that ending as being more Big Reveal than Cliffhanger. YMMV, of course. Either way, the first season's story had a beginning, middle, and end, and was intended to do so - the makers had plans for further seasons, but count on it during writing and production.
 

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