The last few years have been a strange era for television as Netflix and Amazon Prime invest millions and millions of dollars on new shows to try to establish dominance over your streaming time. Unlike the movie and music industries where only the biggest stars seem to get large payouts, your favorite niche comedians can auteur their own series for multiple seasons in this “golden age.”
Streaming companies often seem to be a patron for the arts, rather than a straightforward cash-grab of combining A-listers with flashy special effects. Or rather, it has made little sense that while the traditional broadcasters only break the bank for lowest-common-denominator-treading sitcoms, the rules don’t apply for Netflix. The streaming service takes on a wide range of projects and rarely cancels its original programming.
But that might be coming to an end.
“We should have a higher cancel rate overall.”
Hastings told CNBC in an interview that he’s trying to steer the company in the direction of axing more projects.
“Our hit ratio is way too high right now,” Hastings said, as Vulture transcribed. “So, we’ve canceled very few shows ... I’m always pushing the content team: We have to take more risk; you have to try more crazy things. Because we should have a higher cancel rate overall.”
Still, it’s unclear from this one interview if pre-existing shows on Netflix are more in trouble than before; maybe it’s just that Netflix won’t approve some truly ridiculous new shows?
But with the recent cancellations, it does seem as if the company is making a ― to quote one of the most popular shows on the service ― “pivot.”
Hastings continued to talk about Netflix’s decisions in the interview and gave some insight into how they’re made.
“It’s a mix [of viewing and subscriber growth],” said Hastings of cancellations. “Mostly, it is how many people watch. But those are very connected.”
Although Netflix doesn’t release traditional viewership numbers, this quote from Hastings revealed that the metric of sheer popularity is ― at least now ― their “most” important measure for success. This seems to suggest that the more niche projects could be in trouble.
In the interview, Hastings reiterated that Netflix still plans to keep increasing its spending budget for content. The company is investing $6 billion this year and, according to the CEO, will continue to increase the spending by “a lot.”