Netflix Movie Catalog Shrinking since 2014, Betting on Originals

A couple years ago Netflix looked into their business crystal ball and realized more streaming services were coming and they would be unable to affordably license as many movies.

This led to them pouring billions into creating their own Netflix Original movies and TV shows that they could stockpile on their service forever with zero ongoing license fees. In the short term, they’ll have fewer titles, but in the long run when and if the hopper fills with enough great movies, this could be a winning strategy.

In December 2019 alone, there were 52 new Netflix Original titles released. That’s roughly two new original programs every day.

In March 2014, the US Netflix library had 6,494 movies you could stream. In March 2016, that number had dropped rapidly to 4,335 films, and as of November 20, 2019, the Netflix movie catalog is down to 3,849 titles.

Netflix’s Movie Catalog Has Shrunk By 40% Since 2014

This begs an interesting question: for an ongoing paid subscribers, would you rather have access to a smaller number of Netflix Original movies, some of which are very high quality, like The Irishman, Marriage Story and Dolemite instead of access to hundreds of older films?

As long as the quality is there, yes, I would. I’m interested most in watching good, entertaining movies. Who isn’t?

I’m not interested in 950 so-so to terrible movies, with 40 good movies and if I look real hard 10 great movies. Who wouldn’t rather have fewer high quality original movies and TV shows than a ton of subpar content that has to be waded through to find the gems in the slushpile?

But that’s just me. What do you think?

Look at Disney+, they launched with my current favorite TV show on any streaming channel: The Mandalorian. I eagerly look forward to new episodes of that every Friday. It’s like a favorite TV show of old where I couldn’t wait until the next episode came out.

Give me more of this type of entertainment and I’ll never unsubscribe, Netflix.

Binge Release vs. Weekly Release of New Episodes

Netflix changed the model of how to watch TV shows. Instead of new episodes rolling out weekly like Disney+ is doing with The Mandalorian they send out entire seasons to binge watch. The buzz for that binge watching burns hot for a short period of time, but then fades in favor of whatever else is new. Being the next “new” thing is all the rage on the internet which has a patience span worse than a two year old.

There was a time I would have said more access to more movies for the same price versus a smaller number of original titles, some which will be high quality, most which will be average and some will be terrible.

There aren’t many movies like the three mentioned, regardless how many millions can be spend on them, so it’s unrealistic believing by ongoing subscribing we’ll see a significant amount more movies of this quality.

I can sign up for Netflix for a month and binge watch 50-100 movies vs. staying a subscriber — like I have with them for years — because I’ve already seen what they have that is new and/or existing that I don’t want to watch. Some TV shows like Friends are something I’m more likely to watch repeatedly and would be something I’m apt to continue to stay subscribed.

Maybe Netflix can license more 70s and 80s TV shows? There are a bunch which aren’t on any service. Where is The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, for example? Crackle has three seasons of Fantasy Island, but Crackle is so ad-infested that it is basically unwatchable.

Instead, I see a future where we do more of what we already do: month to month subscriptions and move around between different streaming services to watch what we want to watch, then quit, let them add more original content or movies we haven’t seen, then re-join for another month.

It’s a hassle, no doubt, but more cost-effective than just keeping multiple streaming services for movies we have already seen and don’t plan on rewatching, at all or not very much.


Would you rather have fewer high quality original movies or a large library of movies of mostly less entertaining titles with a few good movies in the mix?

4 thoughts on “Netflix Movie Catalog Shrinking since 2014, Betting on Originals

    1. Good point. Have you seen 6 Underground? I’ve tried to watch this two times now and it just came out yesterday, it’s frustrating me. BUT … Marriage story, Klaus, Dolemite and The Irishman are better than most movies that have been coming out in theaters. I can see it both ways. The original way I wrote this post I leaned more toward what you’re saying, but after seeing these other movies I realized they are not going to be able to sustain their business licensing movies from other studios. What they are doing makes good business sense, however, to your point, they NEED to focus more on quality and spending wisely, not just throwing millions at whatever director comes their way and letting them make whatever they want.

      Liked by 1 person

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