Why Are Netflix Shows Cancelled? Even When They’re Popular?
Netflix was one of the first mainstream non-studio companies to go out of its way to invest in own content, launching Lilyhammer as their first foray into original content, followed by an adaption of a 1990s TV show and Michael Dobbs book of the same name, House of Cards. Today, nearly every legit media streaming site you can think of has their own content, from Hulu with The Morning After and The Handmaids Tail to Amazon Prime with Under the Dome, Mozart in the Jungle, Ripper Street, and many more.
But, as fans of Netflix shows like Sense8 are sure to know, just because a show is good or even relatively popular doesn’t mean that it’s good enough to stick around. The bottom line is still earnings, and if a streaming service like Netflix isn’t making their money back, they can and will cut the show.
How Does That Work?
Let’s take Sense8 as an example. When it first launched, the show was one of the most popular on the web, for a brief and fleeting 15 minutes (3 weeks) of fame. In the first 2 days, the show was pirated over half a million times, and more than 2 million people binge-watched the show. But, after the initial flurry of the show was over, the show had relatively modest success. The Facebook page for the show had 1.5 million followers, which tracked about even or over average viewers for both the Sense8 Christmas special and season 2.
That sounds like a relatively high number, until you consider that Netflix spends an average of $6 million per episode. With a $56 million budget for season 2, Netflix likely spent anywhere from $1-$5 per view – which is much too high considering their vast library of other creative works, and the large-scale success of original shows like Daredevil.
Daredevil, which averages at about 13 million viewers costs about half the price at an average of about $3.3 million per episode, bringing Netflix’s total costs down to less than 30 cents per view. That’s a much better rationalization, considering that Netflix Marvel actually brings in subscribers. Stranger Things, which has garnered a cult-like following, costs $6-$8 million per episode, but with more than 15 million views, Netflix’s costs drop down to just 50 cents per view.
So, It’s Really All About Costs?
Yes. Netflix and other media streaming services are producing content to make money, if they aren’t, they will cut it. Today, Netflix fan favorites like Lilyhammer, The Killing, Bloodline, Girlboss, and Gypsy (among others) have all been cancelled. All of them were primarily cancelled because viewership simply does not justify costs – even when there are millions of viewers.
What now? If you like a show, the best way to keep it going is to share it. Get your friends on board, ask people to watch it, and talk about it. The more people know about it, the more likely viewership will go up and Netflix will earn their money back or better year, make money on it. And, the same goes for original content on every other streaming platform.