It’s a pattern that’s been going on for a while now. With each passing month Netflix removes any number of great movies — ranging from beloved classics to niche interests — and replaces them with less than desirable content. Not only does it seem like there really is less to watch on Netflix these days, it feels like there’s less good things to watch. And that number seems to be shrinking monthly.
And you know what? That’s not entirely inaccurate.
A recent survey of the titanic streaming service has shown a dramatic decline in movies offered within just the last decade. According to Flixable, Netflix’s movie catalog has shrunk from 6,755 films offered in 2010 to a comparatively scant 4,010 in 2018. That’s a net 2,745 movies that the service has shed in just an eight year period!
However, Flixable noted that the inverse was true of Netflix’s televisual offerings. Over the same eight year period of time, the streaming service has grown its catalog of television series from a mere 530 in 2010 to a commanding 1,569 this year. That’s more than one thousand extra series to watch — from Daredevil to Stranger Things — many of which are original offerings that you can’t get anywhere else. And nearly all of these take many times longer to work your way through than a typical 90-120 minute film.
Still, that’s a lot of content that the streaming service is dropping, and the results are not hard for even the most casual subscriber to notice. And it’s not like Netflix is killing its competition lately. If anything, the streaming market has only gotten more crowded while the number of potential subscribers has stayed relatively the same.
Where once there was only Netflix, now there’s also Hulu, Amazon Prime and Film Struck. Many of these are also starting to produce their own original and first-run content and capture many specialized niches that Netflix’s strained offerings struggle to compete against.
Film Struck, for instance, offers the complete Criterion catalog of classic and foreign films, drawing away the “serious” moviegoers from Netflix’s increasingly movie-light platform. Amazon Prime has attached its streaming service to its catch-all shopping service, and further offers additional channels of specialized content for the discerning subscriber. Hulu’s televisual content dwarfs its competitors in both diversity and size, with huge back catalogs of hit TV series and anime for subscribers to parse through.
And none of that even factors in the competition coming in down the line. The biggest of these is undoubtedly Disney, who will shortly launch their own proprietary streaming service. And given the massive amounts of content they have under their umbrella — from animated classics, live-action remakes, Pixar, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the soon-to-be added library of Fox-owned programming — they will almost instantly become the service to beat when they do. Viacom, the parent company for Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV, is the latest company to throw their hat in the streaming ring, which will assuredly fracture the market even further.
With one pie cut up into so many little pieces — and with customers only willing to subscribe to so many services — Netflix’s long-term decision to cut back on the content it offers is a dangerous one for them. In order to remain competitive in the field, they need to offer the best and latest content: not just TV series, but movies and well. And while they have proven themselves the go-to source of original programming, that might not be enough when more and bigger fish jump into the water. Simply being the only place you can go to in order to get your House of Cards or Castlevania itch scratched may no longer be worth the price of admission.