Netflix Says It Has ‘Never Cancelled A Successful Show’

If you’ve ever loved a show that Netflix unceremoniously canceled, take solace in knowing that it was an utter failure.

At least that’s what Netflix wants to communicate in a frankly bizarre new interview between Bloomberg and Netflix co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters in which they say a lot of odd things, but the quote attracting the most attention is about how the service is constantly cancelling shows. Here’s Sarandos:

“We have never canceled a successful show. A lot of these shows were well-intended but talk to a very small audience on a very big budget. The key to it is you have to be able to talk to a small audience on a small budget and a large audience at a large budget. If you do that well, you can do that forever.”

This has outraged many, many Netflix subscribers who take two main issues with what’s being said here.

First, how is Netflix even measuring a success? Everything seems to be based on some sort of formula of hours watched and seasonal completion stacked up against budget. But is there any accounting for building loyal fanbases? Establishing important IP? Review scores? Not stocking your library with dozens of dead-end series? Besides that, it’s easy to think of loads of examples where budget couldn’t possibly have been a factor. How expensive was a show like Teenage Bounty Hunters? I Am Not Okay With This? The Babysitter’s Club? It’s hard to swallow what he’s saying here.

The second point of pushback is if a show has “failed” on Netflix, how much of that is directly Netflix’s fault? A common pain point among viewers who have seen their favorite shows die is that Netflix refused to give them any significant promotion, so of course they withered on the vine. It’s the embodiment of that now famous Barry episode where a showrunner gets a series, it lands on the front page with sky-high review scores, but within minutes it’s replaced by something else and ultimately canceled because it didn’t tick the right metrics boxes.

This entire interview is fully of baffling quotes that paint Sarandos and his co-CEO Greg Peters as out of touch.

Peters: “We’re just getting started to make Squid Game not an unusual thing, but basically something that happens literally every week.”

Sarandos: “This meme of, I can’t find things on Netflix … I mean, hundreds and hundreds of stars that did not have a career before Netflix did because they were found on Netflix.”

Sarandos: “We are equal parts HBO, AMC, FX, the Food Network, HGTV and Comedy Central. Lifetime. You used to have to hunt through 500 channels of cable to find them all and now they’re gonna be on Netflix. The measure of quality is, if you love a dating show, make it as good as The Ultimatum, make it as good as Love is Blind. There’s no difference in prestige quality television in each of these genres as long as they’re well executed.”

Sarandos: “Can you build a big business without [intellectual property] and without a library? We just did.”

I get having confidence in your business but man, these guys are coming across so poorly and so tone deaf to genuine, major issues Netflix faces. I don’t get it. But I suppose we’ll see what this new era brings.

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