The Golden Age of Netflix is Already Over

Evan Woo ‘22

Late last year, Apple released a brand new streaming service called Apple TV Plus, which was closely followed by the long-awaited Disney Plus.  Both epitomize the new movement sweeping across the entertainment industry: every company feels the need to have its own streaming platform to host its original content.  In short, if you’re someone who likes to watch shows from a wide variety of networks, then you better get your wallet ready.


If you’re a subscriber to the popular online streaming service Netflix, there’s two words you may have begun to notice more and more in recent years: Netflix Original.  For years, Netflix benefitted from having very little competition in the field of TV streaming. While competition usually pushes companies towards designing a better product, for Netflix, the lack of competition made it easy for it to acquire the rights of many mainstream TV shows and movies.  However, the rest of the industry is starting to finally catch up, and hurting Netflix as a result. As you may have heard, last year it was announced that fan favorites “The Office” and “Friends” would be removed from Netflix. (The Office is far and away the most watched show on Netflix. Second?  Friends.) As companies like NBC and Warner Bros attempt to tap into the massive market for streaming television themselves, they pull their shows from services like Netflix so fans have to migrate to their service in order to watch it. Unfortunately, as more and more networks and studios create their own streaming services for their shows, fans will have to pick between watching only a handful of shows or subscribing to four or five different services in order to preserve their viewing habits.  


This is not the first time something like this has happened to Netflix.  In 2017, Disney announced that over the next couple of years it would be removing its content from the platform.  The reason? Disney Plus: the aforementioned streaming service that hosts pretty much all of the content Disney removed from Netflix, and more.  In addition, as streaming becomes an increasingly larger factor in revenue for production studios, studios demand more lucrative contracts with Netflix for hosting their content.  The direct result of this was the price hike that took effect earlier this year, raising the price of Netflix’s most popular plan by $2 a month.


While Netflix may be in for a harder future, it isn’t doomed; in fact, far from it.  Netflix, in order to combat its diminishing catalog of content from broadcast and cable television, has kicked into high gear its production of original content.  (Notable Netflix Originals include Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black).  This makes Netflix less reliant on licensed content, making it harder for studios to force it into lopsided deals that it must take in order to retain fans.  In fact, it could even give Netflix subscribers an incentive to stick with the service even when much of the content that originally lured them to Netflix is gone.  However, it’s still highly likely Netflix has already peaked and its popularity will never again be as high as it is today. Business Insider reports that this past summer, Netflix lost more subscribers in the US than it gained for the first time since 2011.


Overall, the future of TV streaming just doesn’t look as bright as it did even three years ago.  While the yearly production of hundreds of “Netflix Original” shows and movies ensures that there will be no shortage of content found on Netflix, in the near future, fans may have to subscribe to four or five services to access the same content they used to get under a single Netflix subscription.