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Netflix’s Cancellation Crisis

Glow, Daredevil, Teenage Bounty Hunters, Dark, American Vandal. These are just five shows with an audience and critic score of over 85% that have been cancelled by Netflix. Not ended, cancelled. These shows were textbook definitions of a success, but why did they get canned by the streaming juggernaut? It’s becoming a more noticed issue as the cancellations pile up. Netflix will greenlight a show, it may do well, and it’ll get kicked out the door after two seasons, three if it’s lucky. There has to be some thought process behind Netflix’s madness; these shows do draw in customers, so why the axe? Like many things in the world, it comes down to one word: Money.

Netflix is, first and foremost, a company and a company has only one real goal in mind: to make as much money as possible, without losing too much money. This seems to be the main issue that Netflix has with these shows. They cost a lot of money to produce and seemingly don’t bring in many new people to the streaming platform. I say seemingly because Netflix doesn’t show how much money or new subscribers a specific show may have brought it, which is understandable as these numbers may be difficult to track, so this is all speculation.

At first glance, people don’t seem to realize how expensive it is to produce some of these shows on Netflix. For example, let’s take Daredevil. Daredevil, for just its first season, cost Netflix a whopping $56 million dollars to make. That’s just for 1 season too. Assuming that costs stayed around the same, it can be estimated that for three seasons, Daredevil cost around $150-200 million dollars. 

Unfortunately, as stated above, I could not find any information on how much money the show brought in for Netflix, so we simply do not know if the company broke even. Regardless, the abrupt cancellation of these shows may present a problem for Netflix. Think about it. Why would people sign up to watch a specific show, if they know that there is a chance of cancellation? Many of these shows that Netflix cancels end on cliff-hangers, as the showrunners expect that they will be picked up for another season, but when they don’t, fans are left confused and frustrated.

There are, however, a select group of shows that Netflix continues to produce, likely due to the amount of attention the shows bring to the platform. The Queen’s Gambit was a breakout success for Netflix that ended things after one season of their own volition, allowing people to watch the show without fear of an unresolved cliff-hanger. You recently released its third season, bringing in even more viewers. These two shows do great things for the platform; however, there is one show that I’ve yet to mention that is unparalleled in the amount of fame it has garnered, and there’s a pretty good chance you already know it.

That’s right, Stranger Things. It cannot be understated the amount of attention this show has brought to Netflix alone. This show took the world by storm when it was released in 2016, and it certainly hasn’t slowed down, with the most recent trailer having almost 6 million views on YouTube. The show is definitely catching the eyes of people, as its season 3 premiere had nearly 64 million viewers in its first month, over a quarter of the reported 214 million users of Netflix. It certainly isn’t cheap either, coming in at a total of around $300 million as of season 3. 

So, what’s the point? Why should Netflix care about shows that cost too much and bring in too little? The point is that it sets a dangerous precedent. Netflix has shown that it is not afraid to pull the plug on critically acclaimed shows if they stop bringing in new eyes. Right now, it may only be more niche shows, but what happens when one day, Stranger Things only brings in 30 million viewers? Will Netflix pull the plug on one of their biggest shows ever? If we’re going on precedent, they may do just that. 

What Netflix is doing is not just bad for consumers, it’s bad for business. I ask again, why would I sign up to a service that may cancel a show that I was interested in? Netflix has this reputation of the service that pulls plugs. Is that a good image to have? I don’t think so. If Netflix wants to succeed, to its fullest potential, it should allow more breathing room for more niche shows. After all, how would Stranger Things have pulled in 64 million viewers if it wasn’t allowed to get to that point in the first place?

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