If you’ve booted up Netflix recently and found yourself endlessly scrolling through the streaming service’s library and finding nothing of interest to watch, you’re certainly not alone. Movie and television fans have noted that the company’s selection seems to have dwindled in recent years and now the math has arrived to back this up. No, you’re not going crazy – Netflix isshrinking and the numbers are kind of shocking.
This report comes to us from All Flicks, who crunched the numbers and discovered that the Netflix movie catalog has shrunk by over 31% in less than three years. Here are the gritty details:
The statistics are simple and remarkable: in January of 2014, Netflix offered its US-based users a selection of 6,494 movies and 1,609 TV shows, for a total of 8,103 titles. As of March 23, 2016, they offer just 4,335 movies and 1,197 TV shows – 5,532 titles in total. That’s 2,571 fewer titles. In other words, Netflix’s catalog has shrunk 31.7% in less than two and a half years!
For more numbers and charts, you can hit the link above. But one thing is clear: the number of movies and shows on Netflix is rapidly declining, with the movie selection plummeting by 33.2% and the television selection by 25.6%.
There are few reasons why this is happening. As All Flicks points out, the past few years have seen other companies rise up to directly compete with Netflix in a major way. The likes of Amazon and Hulu (to say nothing of smaller niche services like Crackleand Shudder) have entered the streaming arena and everyone wants the same content. With more companies bidding on the same movies and shows, prices have gone up, which means reduced libraries. In order to have access to a wide breadth of film and television, you now have to subscribe to several different streaming services.
Of course, this is all happening while Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have all turned their focus on creating original content. While the Netflix catalog has fallen into disrepair, the service will offer 31 new original shows in 2016. And that’s on top of the feature films they’re financing and buying. For these companies, original content that they control and don’t have to license appears to be the new bottom line – if they own it, they don’t have to keep on paying for it after the fact.
And on one level, that’s fine. Many of the shows and movies produced by these streaming networks are pretty great. However, there’s a dark side here that should concern every serious movie fan. The arrival of Netflix was an atomic bomb on the rental industry, murdering many mom-and-pop rentals stories with horrifying speed and sending Blockbuster careening toward an awful slow-motion death. But as Netflix’s disc rental service continues to be neglected and their streaming library shrinks, options for movie fans have truly begun to dwindle. Netflix killed the video store and then it transformed into a completely different service with completely different priorities. A shrinking library is a bad thing for movie fans. If you want to watch something and it’s not on Netflix, you probably no longer have a local establishment to rent from.
Is the sky falling? Not yet. But since it’s possible to imagine a day when the vast majority of movies are increasingly hard to watch as all of the streaming giants focus on their original stuff instead of licensing other movies, it sure feels like it’s getting there.