Why Does Netflix Cancel Shows?

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LOS GATOS, CA/USA - JULY 29, 2017: Netflix corporate headquarters and logo. Netflix specializes in and provides streaming media and video-on-demand online and DVD by mail. (Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com)

Here’s how and why Netflix cancels shows

Earlier this year, Netflix faced criticism that the streaming platform disproportionally cancels more shows than any other network or platform. Now, Netflix has revealed data around the percentage of shows it renews and how Netflix decides what shows to cancel.

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Netflix’s Global Head of TV Bela Bajaria revealed Netflix has a program renewal of around 67%, which is in line with current industry standards.

But Bajaria and her boss, Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, recently spoke at the Paley International Council Summit, admitted sometimes feels that Netflix cancels more shows. Sarandos said it was “disproportionally” big news when a show gets canceled at Netflix than other platforms and networks.

“If you look at season twos and more, we actually have a renewal rate of 67%, which is industry standard,” Bajaria said. “We also do make a large amount of first season shows, which sometimes feels that we have more first season cancellations but if you look at the renewal rate it’s really strong. I also think you have to look at The Crown, with season four launching now, Grace & Frankie and The Ranch, we’ve had long-running shows and we’re always going to have a mix that is great to be told in a limited series form and shows that go on for multiple seasons.

She added, “I’ve been in the business a long time and been on all different sides of those cancellations. It’s always painful to cancel a show and nobody wants to do that. We order straight to series in the first rather than make pilots, which results sometimes in more season one cancellation. Even with that, I still believe a season order is still a better creative expression of a writer’s idea so I still think that’s the right model for us.”

Why does Netflix cancel shows?

Co-CEO Sarandos explains that Netflix judges what show gets picked up on different criteria than traditional networks. He asserts networks had the vision to get a show towards syndication. But, with streaming, there is no real benefit of getting a show syndicated. In addition, the goal of the show should be to tell a story and whether or not the story is told in one season or five seasons, the goal is not to further monetize but to entertain their audience.

“It seems like in this new age of television, the business model is a little different. The things that marked success prior to Netflix and OTT really had been getting to syndication, that was the goal and anything that didn’t get to 100 episodes or past the four seasons didn’t feel like a success, whereas I think many shows can be a success for being exactly what they are and you could tell that story in two seasons or one season or five seasons. I think it gets talked about so much because it’s measured against the old way of doing things.”

Bajaria added the company sees itself as a global network, where Hollywood was not known for creating worldwide content. She highlighted shows that are popular not just in America but, worldwide.

“What gives all of us great pride at Netflix is entertaining the world,” she said. I want us always to be at the forefront of [that] and I love that we do that in so many ways.”

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