Netflix has stressed that it isn’t canceling more shows than regular network TV does, hinting that the streamer’s hard decisions simply cause more of an uproar, especially online. The comments arrive after a string of big Netflix projects like GLOW, Altered Carbon, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance have been nixed in recent months.
Bosses Bela Bajaria and Ted Sarandos defended their cancellation rate at the Paley International Council Summit, saying that Netflix renews around 67% of its series, and that its cancellations were viewed “disproportionately”.
“If you look at season twos and more, we actually have a renewal rate of 67%, which is industry standard,” Bajaria said (via Deadline). “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 are great to be told in a limited series form and shows that go on for multiple seasons.”
Bajaria 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 cancellations. 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.”
Sarandos explained that viewers weren’t yet used to series reaching the end of their natural lifespan so soon, because they’re accustomed to network shows being dragged out in the name of syndication, which would be of no benefit to a streaming service.
“It seems like in this new age of television, the business model is a little different,” he said. “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.”
Some subscribers have often felt tentative about committing to a newly-launched series, wondering if there’s a greater chance that it will end prematurely. The answer to these fears appears to be both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.