If you’ve been on Netflix recently, you’ve probably been binge-watching Stranger Things and Luke Cage (we know we have). Over the last few years, the online television streaming service has produced original favorites like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards that have garnered as many, if not more, views than its traditional content. Yet Netflix made the news this week, not because of its original content, but rather changes that original content has wrought.
This week, the streaming blog Exstreamist announced that Netflix’s catalog had shrunk from 11,000 titles in 2012 to 5,300 today. Wow.
Analysts have attributed a number of different causes to Netflix’s shrinking numbers. Some say Netflix has tried to budget for popular titles (going for quality over quantity). Others say Netflix’s international audience is changing the game (Netflix has 13,500 titles internationally, but only those 5,300 in the US). And yet others believe that Netflix’s emphasis on original content is changing its business priorities.
Netflix has in fact announced its goal to move towards original, self-generated content in the coming years. Netflix CFO David Wells has even said, “You should expect us to push toward more 50/50 in terms of original exclusive content and licensed content.” By the end of 2016, Netflix is looking at releasing over 600 hours of original content. 600 hours!
Though its been a little weird to see Netflix’s catalog shrinking (if you’re anything like us, you’ve watched your favorite show 800 times rather than pick a new program), we have to say that we’re a fan of Netflix’s original content.
Netflix’s original shows, especially favorites like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Jessica Jones, and the recently-released Luke Cage have been pretty game-changing. They’ve tackled difficult issues and done so tastefully.
Look at Orange is the New Black, for example: that show’s redefined the conversation about American prisons, incarceration, and race in the US. And it’s done so in a fun, and sometimes challenging, way.
Same goes for Jessica Jones, the show that centered around ideas of consent and harassment. The central theme of the series turned around asking women to smile, and it gave us a powerful example of a woman who said no.
This week, when Netflix released Luke Cage, it gave us another example of the difficult issues its willing to take on. Have a look at their promotional images and you’ll see why: their protagonist is a black man in a hoodie riddled with bullet holes. That’s saying something.
While the media may be up-in-arms about Netflix’s shrinking catalog, we can’t say that we mind. At least, not if Netflix continues to produce such moving original content.
We’ll take another season of OITNB or a follow-up to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (can you spell, The Defenders?) any day over ten seasons of reality television or soap operas.