What Happened to Netflix?

After announcing a disastrous first quarter of 2022, one where the streaming giant lost over 200,000 subscribers, its stock price tanked 23% and now where the shareholders are suing the company, many are left wondering where Netflix goes from here in an age of shifting news and entertainment?

They Could At Least Pretend to Care About Their Customers

In order to keep subscribers watching, it would help to keep their favorite shows going for longer than two or three seasons only to watch them get unceremoniously cancelled. Mindhunter, Raising Dion, Space Force, GLOW, Archive 81, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher and Santa Clarita Diet have all been cancelled in spite of large viewer numbers and critical acclaim. These cancellations demonstrate a lack of commitment to their shows in general and devalues the experience for any consumer.

It would also help to shorten the production cycle of the shows that do remain. Stranger Things, Russian Doll are finally getting new seasons after long breaks and even Squid Game, while massively successful in all markets, will not probably get another season until 2023 at the earliest. Other shows like Dead to Me, The Witcher and The Crown have had to wait years to premiere new seasons. The streaming service’s executives could also do more to retain popular network shows with Friends finding greener pastures on HBO Max and The Office finding a new home on Peacock. Netflix likes to brag about how much money it spends to acquire films but does not seem willing to hold on to beloved sitcoms. 

They’re No Longer the Only Gang in Town

Even a casual observer can notice that HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+ and Apple TV are lapping Netflix in the race for market share and subscriber eyes. HBO Max is proving to have the best content library overall that is consistently updating with quality films and shows, Hulu manages to pull together from multiple different networks (specifically F/X and ABC) as well as live sports and news, Disney+ is worth the price alone thanks to their extensive library as well as the Marvel and Star Wars franchises. All while their competition has beefed up their game, Netflix seems to be focusing on releasing the occasional mesmerizing documentary (The Tinder Swindler, The Gacy Tapes, The Night Stalker, etc.,) and cancelling shows that they can no longer keep up. 

The previously mentioned services have also partnered with a network or studio to exclusively release content on their platforms. The biggest winner of this partnership has been HBO Max as Warner Brothers released their entire slate of 2021 films on the service the same day the films premiered in theaters and have extended this into 2022 by offering new releases on the platform with 45 days of a film’s theatrical run. The Batman has been the biggest draw so far with over 4 million subscribers tuning in to watch the new reboot film. 

Stop Raising Prices

This may be the lowest hanging fruit of all but in Netflix’s case, it is incredibly true. Here’s a brief history of Netflix’s price increases for their Standard tier going back to 2014:

  • 2014: $7.99 to $8.99
  • 2015: $8.99 to $9.99
  • 2017: $9.99 to $10.99
  • 2019: $10.99 to $12.99
  • 2020: $12.99 to $13.99
  • 2021: $13.99 to $15.49

While the other big services have increased, it has not been nearly as often and as much as Netflix. Within 8 years, Netflix’s standard tier has doubled in price and is now beginning to alienate current and potential subscribers. Apple TV is $4.99 a month; Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ can be purchased in a bundle for less than $15 a month and HBO Max offers their ad-free plan for $14.99 a month. 

Where Does Netflix Go From Here?

One option is to freeze prices. That may seem like an overreaction but it would go a long way to promising new customers that they will not see their prices arbitrarily increase thanks to corporate whims. This would not be a permanent solution but freezing prices for a period of one to two years would allow Netflix to build back their subscriber base as well as an opportunity to create content. 

Speaking of content, focus on quality and not quantity of the programming. With dozens of new shows, films and documentaries releasing on a near constant basis, it can become difficult for subscribers to find a show they will enjoy and with its foray into gaming, Netflix may be overextending its reach a bit. There has also been talk of creating interactive programming but this has not quite come to fruition yet.

If Netflix truly wants to gain back market share, they must also stop threatening to crack down on password sharing. This has become common among all streaming services and Netflix’s continued empty threats do less to intimidate than a mouse staring down a lion. Password sharing will continue to happen as long as streaming services exist and isn’t something that’s unique to Netflix. What is unique to Netflix is its persistent disregard for its subscriber base, its desire to create quality original programming and lack of foresight to the strengths of other streaming services. 

Featured Image Credit by cottonbro

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