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Fade into Fiction

OPINION: What's Wrong with Netflix

OPINION: What's Wrong with Netflix

I absolutely love Netflix. I log-in almost every day. It’s on every device I own, I love a lot of their Netflix Original shows and I like finding the odd hidden gem of a movie or series that I end up loving. But recently I’ve been thinking about my issues that I have with Netflix and it’s not just Netflix that I have problems with, and while I do have an Amazon Prime account, I seldom use the Amazon Video part of it. I will only be focusing on my borderline-petty issues with Netflix.

Audience Viewership Secrecy

When a television show is cancelled, we may not care at all, we may think it’s time or we may go stark-raving mad. When Netflix cancels a show most of the time it’s usually met with either confusion or anger because it’ll seem so out of the blue.

When a show on say, HBO or BBC is cancelled most of the time we are given a general idea as to why and that usually has something to do with poor ratings. Most, if not all, television networks release their ratings for each episode of a show they air. Because of this we can assume for ourselves a certain show may get the chop or a final season order. But Netflix keeps its own ratings locked up tight, only announcing them when a show has performed better than expected.

  Image via Cinescape

Image via Cinescape

When Netflix does announce a cancellation, they often give the vaguest of vague explanations. Here is their official joint-statement (with Marvel) on the announcement of Luke Cage being cancelled: “Unfortunately, Marvel’s Luke Cage will not return for a third season. Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated show-runner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem’s Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series.”

As you can see, there is no statement of reason behind the cancellation, and since we don’t have any figures to back it up, we can only be led to believe that the rumor of Netflix purging all Marvel content from their platform due to Disney’s own upcoming streaming service, Disney+ is true.

I hate-hate-hate that Netflix doesn’t release their viewership figures not only for when a show is cancelled but also when a show is renewed! I’m not going to name any specific shows here (I don’t want to rattle anyone), but there are some shows where I wonder why and how did it get renewed for a second/third/fourth season. The top-most reason why I dislike this practice is because I am paying for this service. If anything, I am an uncredited executive producer paying Netflix to make their own content, so why can’t I know how well or bad a Netflix Original is doing?

Lack of New and Interesting Content

Netflix has a plethora of movies and TV shows of all genres in its library, so many that you’ll never be able to cycle through all of them and yet we do, hours of our lives are dedicated to searching for something to watch and not watching anything at all. The biggest problem is that the high amount of content that Netflix produces does not equal the amount of quality content, after all quantity does not mean quality.

This does depend on where you live as different countries and regions have their own Netflix library, but as a UK subscriber it’s very obvious to me as our movie library mostly consists of movies that have been airing on TV for years. In fact, the Streaming Observer website has stated that the UK and US have the worst of the Netflix movie libraries. The UK’s TV library is far more diverse than our movie library, but it’s still a million years behind the US equivalent which hosts more recent programming. With all of the money Netflix spends on original programming, it would be nice to if they could upgrade their movie libraries.

Speaking of upgrading movies libraries…

Most Netflix Original Movies Suck

  Image via YouTube

Image via YouTube

“Adam Sandler [is] one of the leading comedians in the film world, and his movies have proven to be extremely successful with our subscribers around the world.” – Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer.

I’m going to need to see the receipts on that, Mr Sarandos. Oh wait, yeah. You don’t release those…

All jokes aside, I’m sure Netflix wouldn’t sign a new contract deal with Adam Sandler if no one was watching his movies, however, that does not excuse their lack of quality. I’m not going to shade Sandler anymore since it’s not localized to him but to Netflix and their “movie problem”.

While they’ve excelled in television, they’ve really missed the mark with their movies which seem to verge on “don’t bother” to the “oh Christ my eyes” spectrum. The way a majority of their movies come to us is through distribution deals, meaning they do not produce the movies themselves but only bring them to the viewers to consume, so it’s not like they created these movies that just so happened to be bad. No, someone at Netflix actually sat through The Cloverfield Paradox and thought it would be a fun idea to unleash the mayhem onto our screens.

Don’t get me wrong, not all of their movies are complete trash, Beasts of No Nation, Tallulah, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Cargo, just to name a few are brilliant. But a lot of them seem to have an air of TV-movie quality to them.

The Pressure of Binge-watching

Netflix was the first mainstream content provider to release all episodes of a TV series all in one go, popularizing the term “binge-watching”. I do like a good binge-watch, the most recent show I binged was The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I managed to spread the show throughout the whole weekend and I had such a good time but there was something on my mind every time I even touched a device of my… spoilers!

  Image from BBC

Image from BBC

Avoiding Netflix spoilers is as difficult as waiting literally the whole year (or more) for the next season of show you’re watching. Since they release the episodes of a season all in one go, spoilers are online within hours. If it’s a show you’re invested in then you have to avoid most forms of social media. If you’re using a computer there are extensions you can add to help block them but “life…uh… finds a way”.

My other problem with binge-watching relates back to their viewership numbers as it seems that they’re actively encouraging us to binge-watch news shows so we quickly meet whatever minimum view count they’ve set – in other words “watch it quickly or we’ll axe it”, again this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if they just told us that information…

Despite these first-world problems Netflix remains ahead of the game, especially in the world of television. And you may be thinking I hate Netflix but I do still love them, it’s one of my favorite websites and there’s no way now or in the near future that I’ll be cancelling it. But we’ve all complained about our favorite things at one time or another.

I’d like to hear your thoughts below, whether it be praise or complaints about Netflix, other content providers, or even pettiness, I’m all ears.

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