Netflix Scrambles for Content

Being stuck at home in quarantine, many find refuge in watching movies and TV shows on streaming sites such as Disney+, HBO Max and Hulu. But when Netflix, a nation-wide favorite, started losing some of its best shows and movies due to streaming wars, the service’s popularity and viewer count fell.

Cierra Nervo, Art by Nikki Mielcarek

Streaming wars is a phrase used to describe the battle between entertainment sites over what content is housed on a specific site. Since the launch of Disney+ in November 2019, the platform ushered a new era of streaming: an era where established industry leaders like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Amazon Prime Video started facing growing competition from major new players in the industry. Heavily hyped new platforms like HBO Max, Disney+ and Peacock are gaining popularity from viewers due to their unique and wide array of content. 

Licensing agreements of popular TV shows and movies also cause these streaming wars. Netflix is heavily affected since fan favorites have either been canceled or removed from the site. Some people are outraged that the world’s largest streaming platform, with roughly 183 million paid subscribers worldwide as of March 2020, is not keeping up with what viewers want.

    Movies like “The Craft” and “Pride and Prejudice” are no longer available on Netflix. The site also lost big when it removed many fans’ favorite bingable TV shows. Among those lost by Netflix and added by other services include “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” taken by Peacock, WarnerMedia taking “Friends” in a bidding war for $85 million per year, and loosing “Once Upon a Time” due to contractual obligations. “That 70s Show” left because Netflix decided not to renew its licensing deal and HBO Max acquired “Gossip Girl.” 

Additionally, Netflix canceled future seasons of some fan favorite original shows; among these were “Anne with an E” and “I am Not Okay With This”  whose seasons were canceled due to COVID-19 impacting production costs. 

On top of these major losses, all of Disney’s live-action and animated titles left Netflix on January 1, of this year, just a couple of months after Disney+ launched.

“Netflix licenses TV shows and movies from studios around the world. Though we strive to keep the titles you want to watch, some titles do leave Netflix because of licensing agreements,” Netflix says, answering to why movies/TV shows were being canceled.

    Students have also shared their opinions on Netflix’s loss of some of people’s favorite shows. “Shows like ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ have great representation, so once that show was canceled, people were not only angry their show was taken down, but they also felt robbed of that representation. The viewer count will likely decrease,” said junior Olivia Davenport. 

“Netflix removing some of their most popular non-Netflix Originals will make people mad, especially because they replaced them with bad movies like ‘The Kissing Booth’” said freshman Sasha Drucker. 

Sasha believes that Hulu is Netflix’s biggest competitor because “a lot of the shows that Netflix removed are now on Hulu.”

What this means for the future of Netflix is unpredictable; whether the site will make up for its loss of favorite TV shows and movies with better entertainment or if Netflix’s popularity will decrease and jeopardize its position as the world’s largest streaming platform is a question that remains unanswered.