Netflix is killing itself

I’m taking the reins for this week’s Streaming Saturday because I know Buckler would just bring you some puff piece about Stranger Things. I’ve got something more to talk about.

Netflix, what happened?

This isn’t the first time I’ve ranted about Netflix. You can see another rant here, and that article links to even more of them. I still remember when I first fired up Netflix streaming. (Which, by the way, used to be free with a disc subscription. Those days are sure gone.) Netflix streaming had nearly every old TV show and movie I could think of. It was a lifetime of entertainment on one streaming service.

That surely isn’t the case anymore. Netflix wants to be an original content producer, which is why they seem to come up with about 100 original series, movies, and specials every month. Only problem: Almost all of them are terrible. I’ve ranted before about that too. They’re in a really steep learning curve and unfortunately, we’re the ones who suffer.

Original programming is great…

Look some of Netflix’s original programming is pretty good. Although I didn’t care much for Stranger Things, a lot of folks did. The last season of Black Mirror was really solid and there have been a good number of reasonably decent movies and shows throughout the year. They’re just getting buried by increasing amounts of derivative, poorly produced trash. The Netflix name on a movie practically screams “the studio thought it would fail at the box office.” Original shows have fared better but with the exception of Orange is the New Black and a few real hits, most have overstayed their welcome.

…but that’s not why people show up.

Recent news stories have highlighted the real facts. Netflix was forced into a last-minute, super-expensive deal to keep Friends streaming. (The show was produced by Warner Bros., now a division of AT&T.) Friends would have been a cornerstone of a Warner-only streaming service but Netflix paid a lot to keep it just where it was.

It looks like Netflix will have to shell out dearly to keep The Office too. For a decent number of people, it’s all they watch on Netflix and it isn’t available in other places. Lose The Office and it’s hard to know how many of those people will stay.

Right here, that shows the flaw in Netflix’s strategy. People want to stream old TV shows and movies and Netflix doesn’t want them to. Take away that old content and people will just move away from Netflix. That’s the message.

4K? What 4K?

Netflix charges $2 a month or more for a 4K plan, but hasn’t delivered a lot of 4K. Some of the Netflix originals are in 4K but not a lot, and practically no movies are in 4K on Netflix even if they are available in 4K on iTunes or other sources. It makes the 4K plan pretty much a waste of money. And face it Netflix, you don’t want people thinking you’re a waste of money.

2019 without Netflix?

It’s not really likely that we’ll see Netflix fold in the next year. But already, the bloom is off the rose. By the end of 2019 we’ll see streaming services from Disney/ABC/Marvel/Lucasfilm as well as AT&T/HBO/Warner. That’s a lot of content that is expected to move away from Netflix (and to some extent Hulu and Prime) and that’s at least $10-$20 more you’ll pay just to see the content you want. Netflix won’t have much left except a bunch of cruddy original productions.

So I don’t see 2019 being the last big year for Netflix but it’s quite possible 2020 will be, unless they get a lot lot lot better at producing content that people want to watch.

If they don’t, they’ll just follow Blockbuster into the scrap heap of history. I’m about to toss them now, at least until the next season of Black Mirror.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.