The recent spate of Netflix cancellations has left fans of those shows reeling. Netflix senior executives, however, have defended their recent decisions, saying the streaming service must take programming risks in order to remain competitive. Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer, believes that if the streaming service doesn't fail, perhaps it isn't trying hard enough.
Netflix vs. TV networks
Netflix contends that its 7 percent show cancellation rate is much lower than that of television networks. Television networks regularly cancel one-third of their new shows, Sarandon said. On the other hand, Netflix has renewed 93% of its original series.
According to Sarandos, the service's cancellations have been unexpected, which is why fans have been upset. Despite having a good hit ratio, Netflix must continue to second-guess itself, despite its high renewal rate, Sarandos said. The more shows the service has, the more likely it is that there will be cancellations.
"We love when there is a deep, passionate fan base for a show," Sarandos said. "We just need it to be big enough to support the economics of that show."
How Netflix chooses which shows to ax
Netflix, which added 5.2 million new customers in the second quarter of 2017, applies a unique approach to series cancellations. Given that most shows are uploaded in their entirety on the day they premiere, fans usually get to at least see a whole season of the show before it's axed. TV networks forego producing or airing most shows if they do not resonate with a large segment of the population after the pilot or first couple of episodes.
According to CFO David Wells, Netflix analyzes viewing trends quarterly and then makes a decision regarding each show's future. "It really is, for us, about the continuity of viewing over the life of the show," Wells said. "Overall, you'll see us try to wrap the narratives on shows that are not renewed," he added, citing "Bloodline," which aired for three seasons, as an example.
Show cancellations irk fans
The recent cancellations of Baz Luhrmann's "The Get Down" and the Wachowski siblings' "Sense8" as well as "Girlboss," "Marco Polo," and "Gypsy" have fueled the ire of the shows' fans. Social media reactions to these cancellations include "I now hate Netflix" and "They made us wait for two years for Sense8 only to kill it."
Netflix executives, however remain unfazed. In a statement to fans, Netflix executives said that they had seen the petitions and read the messages, but that they could not bring the series back. Perhaps many subscribers will grow accustomed to cancellations on their favorite streaming service, but die-hard fans will not be easily persuaded that it is all for the best.
Though Netflix garnered 91 Emmy nominations this year, including nods for "Stranger Things," "The Crown," "House of Cards," "Master of None" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" in the Best Series category, the service needs to work a little harder at keeping viewers happy or it may risk alienating large segments of the streaming population, who may react as one fan of Sense8 did on Facebook: "I wish I could renew my subscription. I have thought long and hard to try to make it work but unfortunately I can't."