Netflix's CEO Is Right: They Should Be Cancelling More Shows
This is why Marco Polo and The Get Down ended so soon.
BY Matt Miller | Jun 2, 2017 | Film & TV
UPDATE: Netflix has cancelled drama “Sense8” after two seasons.
“After 23 episodes, 16 cities and 13 countries, the story of the Sense8 cluster is coming to an end,”,” said Cindy Holland, VP of Netflix original content. “It is everything we and the fans dreamed it would be: bold, emotional, stunning, kick ass, and outright unforgettable. Never has there been a more truly global show with an equally diverse and international cast and crew, which is only mirrored by the connected community of deeply passionate fans all around the world. We thank Lana, Lilly, Joe and Grant for their vision, and the entire cast and crew for their craftsmanship and commitment.”
In 2013, Netflix defined itself as a destination for premiere original programming with the debut of two shows: House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. Over the next four years, that number of original programming has expanded to dozens of dramas, comedies, mini-series, documentaries, cartoons, and films. While it's hard to keep up in the era of Too Much TV, it's especially hard to stay on top of all that Netflix has to offer—and the flood of content over the last few years has dropped the streaming service's overall quality drastically.
While there have been hits in recent years, some shows—Bloodline, The Ranch, Iron Fist—have hurt Netflix's reputation as a curator of quality content. And most recently, Netflix cancelled The Get Down after only one season—a move that was unsurprising after the show's lukewarm reviews and massive price tag. It also cancelled the unbelievably expensive Marco Polo after two seasons for what's likely the same reason.
In an interview with CNBC, Netflix CEO and founder Reed Hastings said that the streaming service might be in the business of cancelling more original series.
"Our hit ratio is way too high right now," Hastings said. "So, we've cancelled very few shows … I'm always pushing the content team: We have to take more risk; you have to try more crazy things. Because we should have a higher cancel rate overall."
It's an excellent PR spin to add the caveat that there are just too many good shows, but the sentiment is still there: Netflix needs to cut back and focus on higher quality. While Netflix doesn't release any numbers for streaming data, Hastings hinted at what criteria the service takes into account when cancelling a show.
"You can tell when we cancel a show," he said. "It's a mix [of viewers and subscriber growth]. Mostly, it is how many people watch. But those are very connected."
He also pointed out that it will continue spending money on original content beyond the $6 billion it dished out this year. Assuming Netflix shifts its focus to curating fewer shows, or cutting more shows loose, it's possible they'll be spending more money on less content, which could (theoretically) increase quality overall.
And, at least for now, Hastings also said that Netflix will not raise its prices.
"What we have done is kept our base price $7.99," he said. "It has been eight years. He has moved the HD and the upper tiers. But the base tier has stayed the same price for eight years."