Resident Evil, The Midnight Club, Warrior Nun, and Archive 81 are only a few of the titles Netflix canceled in the last year. If we're to believe the Netflix executives, the aforementioned shows had it coming.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Netflix CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters were given the chance to explain to fans why they've canceled so many popular shows, and according to Ted Sarandos, the American streaming service has never terminated a show that it considered to be successful.
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.
Sarandos then used the success of the South Korean survival drama hit show Squid Game to back up his point, saying:
It is very rare that a show like Squid Game from Korea would be as global as it was. Within 30 hours, the world was watching Squid Game with no human intervention to try to market Squid Game to the world.
Greg Peters doubled down on this, stating:
We’re just getting started to make Squid Game not an unusual thing, but basically something that happens literally every week.
Within its first 28 days, Squid Game had amassed 1.65 billion viewing hours, making it the most-watched series on the platform. By October 2021, Netflix estimated that the show, which had cost just $21.4 million to produce, had generated nearly $900 million in value. Inevitably, Netflix renewed it for a second season last year.
The algorithm employed by the Netflix CEOs is, however, flawed. Let's examine Mindhunter and Marvel's Daredevil, two of the top Netflix shows that were canceled in recent years. Mindhunter was put on indefinite hold by Netflix in January 2020, citing the desire of the show's creator, David Fincher, to work on other projects. The first season has a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while the second season has a 99% approval rating. Even though the popular psychological crime thriller wasn't officially canceled, it's highly doubtful that it will be back for a third season given that the cast was released from their contracts.
Marvel's Daredevil, on the other hand, was officially canceled in November 2018. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show's first season scored a 99% approval rating, followed by scores of 81% for its second season and 97% for its third. Marvel executives, cast members, and crew were all taken aback by Netflix's decision to cancel the show because they had all anticipated at least two more seasons. Even Craig Erwich, senior VP of originals at Hulu, said the streaming service was open to bringing the show back.
Sarandos claimed that the streaming service catered to a diverse audience base, saying:
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.
What Netflix executives fail to realize is that they haven't differentiated themselves in an industry where competition is rife. Unlike HBO, the streamer lacks high-quality must-stream content that users would be willing to pay top dollar for. The basis for HBO's devoted audience base has been the success of shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and the most recent House of the Dragon as well as HBO's The Last of Us.
Until Netflix starts to place a higher priority on quality than quantity, its current business model of producing a huge number of forgettable shows in the hopes that one might be as big a hit as Squid Game will eventually burn them to the ground.
Speaking of Daredevil, Disney+ is working on a reboot of the Marvel series titled Daredevil: Born Again. The 18-episode show will start filming next month, and it is expected to come out in spring 2019.