Netflix Content Portfolio Down 32% Since 201429 Mar, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel
SVOD pioneer focuses on exclusives rather than bulk programming
The number of movies and TV show titles available to stream on Netflix is down 31.7% since 2014, according to new data from AllFlicks, an independent service that tracks the subscription streaming pioneer’s content offerings globally.
AllFlicks found that Netflix in 2014 offered domestic subscribers access to 6,494 movies and 1,609 TV shows, or 8,103 titles total. On March 23, 2016, Netflix offered subs access to 4,335 movies and 1,197 TV shows, or 5,532 titles. That comes to 2,571 fewer combined titles in two years.
During the same time period, Netflix has grown its paid domestic sub base by 11.7 million to 43.4 million members. The service has also increased current content liability costs from $1.7 billion on Dec. 31, 2013, to $2.7 billion on Dec. 31, 2015.
Clearly, Netflix is spending money on content. It’s just not buying in bulk anymore. While observers may question the quantity decline, Netflix would rather attention be paid on quality — as in original and exclusive content.
For example, Netflix last September chose not renew a license agreement with Epix, from which the SVOD service had spent about $1 billion over the previous five years obtaining largely non-exclusive pay-TV rights to movies from Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and MGM.
While Epix shopped the deal to Hulu, Netflix instead cited its upcoming exclusive pay-TV window to movies from Walt Disney Studios, Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm (excluding Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos said the Epix decision was due to the service’s increased emphasis on original programming, including theatrical releases.
“Just like we’ve changed the game for TV watchers by releasing entire seasons [binge viewing] around the world at the same time, we have begun making movies that will premiere on Netflix globally and, in some cases, simultaneously in theaters,” Sarandos wrote in a blog post last year.
Netflix last year debuted African warlord drama Beasts of No Nation, and Adam Sandler comedy The Ridiculous 6.
Acquiring global rights to content has become Netflix’s No. 1 priority and most-costly challenge. With global access in almost 200 countries, Netflix often seeks worldwide rights in an attempt to differentiate itself and raise the license-fee bar out of reach (i.e. outbidding) from the competition.
“Our goal is to own more of our original programming to allow for greater creative and business control and to ensure global access to content. We are currently actively managing productions spanning the globe from Cambodia to Venice Beach,” CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells wrote in the fourth-quarter investor newsletter.
Sarandos said his aim is to find niche content that appeals to a variety of interests — a show somebody can't live without.
“I think the art of this is going to be doing something that doesn't feel homogenized for the world, that still feels like great programming for everybody. We've had tremendous success so far … with ‘Narcos,’ a primarily Spanish language show. And ‘Making a Murderer,’ … in many parts of the world these kind of true detective documentaries are incredibly popular in primetime television,” he said.