Netflix is cancelling Orange is the New Black after seven successful seasons. The announcement was met with a great deal of surprise. Fans and critics alike wondered what made the streaming giant cancel such a well-beloved and critically lauded show. To discover the answer, we have to look at Netflix’s larger ambitions when it comes to content creation.
Quantity Over Quality
Since it’s inception, Netflix has tried to appeal to as large a consumer base as possible. Their strategy has always been to go for the most crowd-pleasing fare. Whether it was their multiple-movie deal with funnyman hitmaker Adam Sandler or Will Smith’s Bright, a film that was as widely watched as it was deeply panned by critics.
While online streaming was still a new phenomenon, this strategy appeared to work. Subscribers had very little expectations about what Netflix had to offer them. As long the streaming platform pushed out a lot of original content for a minimal monthly fee, viewers didn’t seem to care that the content wasn’t particularly good.
But times have changed. Netflix is no longer the underdog competing against TV networks, but the leader of an industry that is poised to be the future of serials and small budget films. Aware of the potential, other giant media companies like Youtube and Disney have also thrown their hats into the ring, and are churning out billions of dollars worth of content to compete with Netflix.
Add to this the fact that poor show ratings have finally come back to haunt Netflix in the form of dropping stock value. More and more of the new episodes Netflix is pushing out are being downvoted by a fickle audience. Stockholders fear this lack of interest in new Netflix programming means subscribers are going to look elsewhere for their streaming needs.
Netflix has responded to this changing landscape of the online streaming industry with some bold and decisive moves. At long last, the company seems focused on delivering quality programming over quantity.
Orange is the New Black was an excellent show, but after seven seasons, it was running out of interesting stories to tell, and so it had to go instead of dragging out its welcome. Iron Fist was canceled after two seasons because it was not garnering the interest that fellow Marvel hero shows like Daredevil or Jessica Jones are able to draw.
The Most Important Metric
People often wonder how Netflix deems a show to be a success or not since the company doesn’t release data about the viewership for its range of content. But the truth is, at the end of the day, viewership count is not important.
Netflix needs to retain earlier subscribers and keep getting new ones in order to survive. For that to happen, there must always be a positive buzz attached to its new programs, and that won’t happen if viewers grow accustomed to the idea that Netflix is in the habit of churning out garbage programming.
Picking The Right Talent
Now that Netflix is removing the dead weight from its programs list, it means there’s a lot more money to spend on creators who have won the audience’s trust with their earlier work. Now that Netflix is competing for awards like the Emmys, it needs to hold its shows up to the standard of the current golden age of Television.
Thus, we’re hearing about Ryan Murphy’s new contract with Netflix, where the American Horror Story creator is being given free rein to come up with new programs for the streaming platform.
Even more impressive is the hiring of Shonda Rhimes, of Grey’s Anatomy fame, whose recent deal with Netflix now makes her the highest-paid showrunner in History.
Netflix has also been busy buying up the rights to award-winning films, like Oscar Winning director Alfonso Cuaron’s latest critically-lauded film, Roma.
Setting The Trend
The sum total of all these moves on the part of Netflix makes it clear that the streaming giant is aware of the new competition its soon going to be facing from other streaming platforms. But it’s not going to give up its leading position in the industry without a fight.
What it means for the average viewer is quite simply better programming. Instead of surfing across Netflix’s mountain of mediocre content in search of something you might actually want to watch, you can give a chance to a new series secure in the knowledge that it has likely been made by passionate artists and storytellers rather than being more of the same formulaic content churned out in a content factory in the hopes of a quick cash grab.