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Why is Netflix canceling so many series?



When Netflix started producing original series, it was noted that the streaming giant simply renewed absolutely everything. As much as the reviews and the reactions from the public were not good, the series made no noise on social networks, as there was the announcement of the renovation a few months later. It was like that until the first severed heads appeared in mid-2016: ‘Hemlock Grove’, ‘Bloodline’ and ‘Marco Polo’ opened up a path that would later be more visible. with the cancellations of “ Sense8 ” and “ The Get Down ”, more popular and globalized. Since then, abrupt cancellations have become more and more frequent, and during the pandemic there are many.

The long list of series canceled by Netflix in 2020 can be scary at first (see here!), But what those decisions mean is less catastrophic than you might think. Some of them, of course, are due to complications from the Covid-19 pandemic, but many more are part of what appears to be a restructuring of the house’s plans. And, while cancellations are always frustrating to fans (I myself have been waiting for the rebirth of ‘The New Normal’ since 2013), they are part of the game and will continue to be.

So if we want to understand what the wave of Netflix cancellations really means, there are a few important points:

The crown

No one here has a crystal ball to ‘guess’ like Netflix ‘thinks’, but a Vanity Fair report found that the platform’s equation doesn’t necessarily take into account the audience, but the number of people. new potential subscribers that a new season could generate. For this reason, a good audience is an important factor, but not the only one: you still have to take into account the presence on social networks and how this impact occurs. The fan voice might not even be bulky, but if it’s loud, it has already done the job.

It is precisely for this reason, moreover, that Netflix series tend to end with fewer seasons: a series in its fifth year would hardly attract a really large number of new subscribers to offset the expense – the exceptions. are very popular attractions, like ‘The Crown’ and ‘Stranger Things’, or the platform’s early originals, like ‘Orange Is the New Black’, ‘BoJack Horseman’ and ‘House of Cards’.

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This equation is cruel, but that’s how closed systems work: The bottom line for Netflix is ​​the subscribers, after all.

I don’t agree with that

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producer Alex Kurtzman (“ Star Trek: Discovery ”) said that just to deal with PPE (personal protective equipment) for the cast and crew, an addition varying between 300 $ is required. and 500,000 per episode. Reflecting on the matter, other TV producers told Rolling Stone on condition of anonymity that Kurtzman was humble with this amount and that the total expenses went much, much further.

For example, more is being spent on transportation: a van that would normally carry 10 people can now only accommodate two, which means more vans, more gas, more drivers are needed. An episode that could be completed in 8 days will now spend at least 10, and each day more means more spending and more days paying for extras. If the protagonist of your series lives in one state and records in another, the production must bear the 14 days of isolation, adding to the amount paid an additional fee for the jobs that the person has potentially lost during this period. All the protection around the cast needs to be tripled as they are the most exposed as they need to be maskless during filming. Series that operate on a tight budget could hardly afford it.

And series that don’t run on a tight budget, it should be noted, are very rare exceptions.

For attractions like “GLOW” and “The Society”, which involve a lot of physical contact (in the case of the former) and many people on the scene (the latter), the costs are even higher as these are still factors. more delicate. There is a huge difficulty in even starting recording safely, even during the replay.

If the sum of these factors were not sufficient to lead to cancellations and “renewals”, there is another complicating factor: the reconciliation of agendas.

When all filming was cut short or postponed from March of this year, it caused a tsunami of conflicting schedules and actors having to abandon projects because they would no longer be able to fit into them when it all came back. The USA Network mini-series “Evel”, for example, was dropped because the protagonist would be Milo Ventimiglia. The actor plans to incorporate the footage into the “This Is Us” break. But during the time of that hiatus, we were at the height of Covid-19 contagions and deaths, and it was not possible for any of the series to film in an insecure manner. Now the NBC family drama has returned to filming and there is no more space on Ventimiglia’s agenda for “Evel”.

With bulky casts (like “ The Society ”) and trendy names (like “ I don’t agree with that ” – the protagonist, Sophia Lillis, already has other projects lined up), the situation becomes even more difficult to be circumvented. Even if the question “but couldn’t Netflix wait?” has been asked by many, the question is not necessarily “do not want to wait”, but there is no prediction of how long to wait. It’s admittedly a difficult and sacrificing choice, but the inability to reconcile so many variations is what leads to blame – all of this while the actors, producers, directors and writers are involved in other projects as well. The creator of “I Don’t Agree With This,” Jonathan Entwistle, has previously been chosen to create films and a TV series in a Power Rangers shared universe.

Cindy Holland (left) and Bela Bajaria (right)

From a more specific perspective, Cindy Holland’s recent departure from Netflix is ​​the third factor that helps explain what’s behind these cancellations. She was one of the House’s veterans, one of the makers of the original TV series, and the one many thought was next after Ted Sarandos. His departure, announced at the beginning of September with the promotion of Bela Bajaria to the post of head of Global TV, was a harbinger of change.

Holland was the person who brought some of the main series to Netflix, helmed the first originals, and been with the company since the days of DVD by mail. Streaming justified that, for what she has in mind for the future, Bajaria is adjusting better – the two until then had practically shared the same position, and leaving Holland below the hierarchy would be unthinkable.

The important detail here is that future, and Bajaria’s interview helps us understand what it is exactly. When the two executives shared the work, the big conflict was that people often weren’t sure which of the two to report, but it was a consensus that Holland took more care of American productions, while Bajaria answered for worlds.

Over the past several months, what we’ve been tracking through the streaming giant’s quarterly investment reports is an ever-increasing stabilization in the number of subscribers in the United States and Canada, and the recent announcement of the end of the 30 free days for new subscribers in both countries. In other words, the company implies through this that it really does not need to make an effort to convince potential consumers in these markets, because it already dominates them.

Moreover, a brief analysis is enough to understand the trend that has taken place: during the pandemic, and even before it, “ Dark ”, “ Elite ” and “ La Casa de Papel ” were the series that are become gigantic phenomena throughout. the world. There are more products of this size than the platform wants. World series, produced outside the North American axis, are cheaper and have better responded to foreign audiences. By investing in it, Netflix intends to reiterate the predominance it has elsewhere in North America, in addition to getting ahead of the other streams that are now appearing in terms of global expansion. When Apple TV +, Disney +, HBO Max and Peacock think of producing Latin series, for example, Netflix will be light years ahead.


In summary, we have to keep in mind that every broadcaster or platform cancels series. When Netflix is ​​producing at such a high volume, it is even consistent that it also has a higher number of cancellations. It is this number that is scary. But many of the attractions canceled in 2020 have come under heavy criticism, had little impact, or a combination of the two.

What appears to be the strategy is to “cancel to conquer”, with a restructuring aimed at series that reach a wider audience. For example, even after so many cancellations, the streaming giant has already ordered seven more Spanish productions, including films, series and documentaries, taking a spin on recent hits from Spain and betting on popularity.

If it’s the right way, only time will tell. The biggest fear is that this prospect of mass popularity will sacrifice the space that would have shows like ‘GLOW’, ‘Bounty Hunters’, ‘One Day at a Time’, ‘Dear White People’ for example – produced or played by women, black or LGBT people. In this vision that seems to be “the future of the streaming giant”, would these same series be produced?

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