Report: Netflix Wants to Invest in Fewer, Better Originals

Posted on April 22, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Music + Videos, Netflix with 32 Comments

Netflix wants to change the way it invests in exclusive shows after the streaming service recently lost subscribers for the first time in over a decade. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the company is now planning to create fewer shows than resonate more with its subscribers.

“After churning out over 500 original programs last year, Netflix is looking to add fewer new titles, with a greater emphasis on quality, people familiar with the company’s strategy said. It is revamping production deals to limit its risk, and prioritizing programs with the biggest return, not the greatest reach, the people said. A key internal metric: the ratio of a program’s viewership to its budget,” the Wall Street Journal wrote.

Netflix still plans to increase its investments in Netflix Originals this year to over $20 billion, and the company said that it won’t compromise on quality. “We’re always going to make great shows and have the amount of money needed for the creator’s vision,” said Netflix Head of Global TV Bela Bajaria in an interview.

If Netflix remains the biggest SVOD service with over 220 million subscribers, it’s facing increased competition from HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or Apple TV+. All these services are investing a lot of resources into exclusive content to attract more subscribers, and they’re also quick to cancel anything that doesn’t find an audience.

Netflix recently had a huge hit with Squid Game, a show that didn’t have high production costs compared to other Netflix exclusives such as Stranger Things, which is now on its fourth season. However, producers have told the Wall Street Journal that Netflix has been trying to lower costs for renewed shows by reducing the number of episodes in new seasons. According to Bajaria, though, shorter seasons are “always about the creative” and not money.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Report: Netflix Wants to Invest in Fewer, Better Originals”

  1. simont

    Quality over Quantity. Sounds like a good plan.

    According to Bajaria, though, shorter seasons are “always about the creative” and not money. - No, it is all about the money sadly.

    • Jogy

      > Quality over Quantity. Sounds like a good plan.

      Yeah, but they also say that:

      > A key internal metric: the ratio of a program’s viewership to its budget

      > ... Netflix has been trying to lower costs for renewed shows by reducing the number of episodes in new seasons

      That does not sound like aiming for a top quality, but for a quality that is "just enough" to bring more money compared to the expenses.

      We will see how that turns out.

      • mattbg

        To me, reducing the # episodes is a great idea. So much of their content feels like such a slog and artificially distended. Many of their shows seem designed for people to have on in the background while they are doing something else.

    • hrlngrv

      Well, who in their right mind would expect honest responses from an entertainment company exec? BS is their oeuvre.

  2. mike2thel73

    These d-bags who run the company are stupid & greedy.


    4-5 years too late.

    The reason they went with quantity over quality is because they needed to justify their price hikes. The problem is they needed to proceed SLOWLY with the price hikes over time while gradually improving with the same quality series (instead of constant cancelling) with more quality series over time.

    They premature ejaculated because the stock market / investors are constantly pre-mature ejaculating over stock performance every 3 months.

    no one wants to build for the long term because investors hate anything long term.

    They wanted to become media kings overnight but no one ever builds a long lasting empire in a decade in a highly competitive environment.

    the more things change the more they stay the same.

    the usual media suspects have all streaming options now.

    Consolidation will happen and things will go back to pre-Netflix days/pre - streaming corporate Tom-foolery.

  3. markbyrn

    Sad, throwing out a hackneyed phrase like quality over quantity to get suckers to pay more for less.

    • bkkcanuck

      Quality over quantity tends to inherently mean investing the same in less series... of course it could be corporate speak done by executives of just budget cutting - but that would defeat the reason why the budget was larger to begin with... Netflix was to reliant on other media companies catalogues to fill in what is available on an ongoing basis (something that they knew was a risk of being lost)... If it is budget cutting, it would likely lead to a downward spiral... and be a bad strategy.

  4. jmountjoy

    I’ll just suggest that this is a shining example of where competition forces companies to think of meeting the majority of consumers’ interests. An increasingly rare phenomena in the world of tech. Although it’s easily argued that this is more an example of entertainment than tech now.

  5. hrlngrv

    Stranger Things, at least the 1st and maybe 2nd season, fine. Space Force, urgh!

    As hard as it may try, Netflix will never be HBO.

  6. WaltC

    Yep, "go woke, go broke" seems a perfectly apt sentiment that I hope Hastings will one day adopt and comprehend. Netflix is not the place for exploits in racism like, "Dear White People" and so on. I waited in vain for "Dear Black People," but I wisely decided not to hold my breath. In the current Washington climate of "How to destroy a signal economy", persons like Biden are trying to cover their tracks by blaming this inflation on that ignorant Russian peasant, Putin, as opposed to fixing it, which seems out of the question for the current Washington occupiers. "You want us to fix things? Lol. We break them--we don't fix them!" And so, as inflation soars, people begin to part with luxury items in their budgets, like Netflix. Hasting should really take a long, hard look at just where his politics are taking him.

    • ruivo

      Yes, surely Biden and the woke crusade are at fault. Because everyone is a conservative, including (and especially) people that got the short end of the stick on the way of life you guys are so desperate to conserve.

      Yes, that is the cause, and not, you know, everyone and their mother starting their own streaming service and then pulling their content from Netflix...

    • cnc123

      Yep, "go woke, go broke" seems a perfectly apt sentiment that I hope Hastings will one day adopt and comprehend... And so, as inflation soars, people begin to part with luxury items in their budgets, like Netflix.

      Do you have actual evidence that people are spending less on streaming, or that people are moving to services with non-social justice content? Is the Newsmax streaming service picking up those subscribers? Or is this just whining?

    • bschnatt

      Yep, inflation ramped up long before Putin invaded Ukraine, but we're told it was Putin and Trump's fault. Right, and I have a bridge in London I can sell you. I'm thinking it has more to do with Biden shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline on day one of his administration and canceling the federal gas and oil leases. (Biden is now reinstating the leases because, ya know, election year...)

  7. hopmedic

    Companies are going to start finding out.... Get woke - go broke. The majority is fed up.

    • thretosix

      Only people using the Woke term anymore are Magats.

      • hopmedic

        The difference between your kind and my kind is that my kind undestands that being offended is a choice, so where you think I'm offended by your childish name-calling, you are wrong.

        Have a great day.

        • Thretosix

          The term is about a decade old and a few dollars short. I just see when people are using it now it's like they never understood it. People using it now are using it for a purpose. Apparently the term does offend you because you are here talking about it. Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean people like you have to regurgitate a word and give it new meaning and use it as a tool for your culture war. Good luck with that.

    • ruivo

      Ops, I mixed up the comments that mention "Dear White People"! So, you know, you are free to ignore that part!

    • ruivo

      Are you sure Netflix is struggling because of conservatives leaving the platform? Because it looks like the cause is just more competition, the raising costs of the starts they've made, and also, the fact that every single media conglomerate is starting their own streaming service, both pulling content from them and also using said content to lure people away from them.

      I'm not saying Netflix is a paramount example of subtlety on social commentary, but I also doubt people are really jumping ship just because of Dear White People. A show that, you know, you are free to ignore how many times you want.

      Not everything in the world revolves around the conservatives/rightwingers insane crusade against any kind of social change.

      • hopmedic

        I am by no means suggesting that getting woke is 100% of Netflix' problem. Certainly there are other forces at work. The reason I used the words "start finding out" is because there is a sleeping giant that is awakening. For too long the overly-vocal minority has been running things into the ground. I've been saying for years that if true patriots had half the resolve that our founding fathers had, we would have stormed Washington DC, armed, decades ago. We have a FAR more tyrannical government than the one that they overthrew, but because the bureaucrats have gradually turned up the water temperature, it hasn't been obvious that we were being boiled. Perhaps, and hopefully, that resolve is solidifying.

        • Thretosix

          You are the one dragging culture wars into the matter. Talking about Wokeness you need to wake up. It is hilarious that you are soo triggered by something your political bias has manufactured.

      • bschnatt

        It's probably a mixture of both. I don't like subsidizing garbage, and I don't find much there to watch (especially since the Marvel shows moved to Disney+, although those shows aren't exactly Oscar-worthy either). I was really excited for the Lost in Space reboot, but it was just ok. (Having said that, I would like to buy the final 2 seasons on Blu Ray to match season 1, hint, hint...)

  8. david.thunderbird

    Raising rates couldn't have helped retention. Move along these are not the movies you are looking for... (to mangle a line).

  9. rm

    They may have figured out almost all their original action / adventure movies are B movie quality.

  10. Gordan Redzic

    I am assuming this means more love is blind, ultimatum, and other "quality" shows :)

  11. mattbg

    I'm an on-again/off-again subscriber of Netflix but if they had fewer shows with fewer episodes and if each new show had a decent chance of being good, I'd watch more on Netflix.

    I'm just a sample of one, of course, but I am tired of being disappointed by shows that were so obviously meant to be 6 episodes but were dragged out to 10 episodes for some unknown reason.

    Apple TV's model is pretty good. Almost everything on there is of decent quality and worth watching, even if it's not your cup of tea. Although I have to wonder why any artist wants their material going there given the limited audience it will have.

  12. bluvg

    The words used here don't match the metrics mentioned. By the metrics, they're talking about "popularity," not "quality." That's understandable, but it's also what leads to idiocracy (the concept, not the movie).

  13. bkkcanuck

    It is a balancing act, you want enough series to attract different audiences - and attract them all year around (maybe with a few weeks gap inbetween seasons). You want to have enough to attract those that like SciFi, enough for those that like Mysteries, enough to attract those that like dramas or period dramas, etc. BUT, if you do try to do too much, you lose focus and quality will drop and you become no better than any low quality service.

    Netflix would also be better off not dropping an entire series at one time - but on a weekly schedule... I have no problem binge watching an entire series in one or two days, but then they don't have anything to make me come back... so dropping an entire series is bad business.

  14. lvthunder

    The problem with the quality over quantity mantra is people's tastes are different so what the customer says is quality is different.

  15. rossdelliott

    Maybe just stop cancelling shows after two seasons... Hard to feel like you want to invest in keep coming back to the original programming, when they abandon almost everything so quickly.

  16. mefree

    Get woke, go broke. Netflix is learning this like Sony did, etc, etc. Stop making racist, woke, and sometimes Disney groomer style trash that puts agenda over story and things will improve.