No wonder Netflix is ​​bleeding subscribers – it’s become the new cable | Andre Laurent

AAfter years of exponential growth, Netflix announced on Tuesday that it had lost subscribers for the first time in more than a decade. The announcement spooked Wall Street and sent shares plummeting more than 35%, wiping out more than $50 billion in market capitalization from a company whose shares had already fallen more than 40% on the year.

To explain the slowdown, Netflix postulated everything from the war in Ukraine to people sharing passwords. But what if the reason is much simpler – that Netflix just doesn’t really make people want to see more?

It’s been a long time since Netflix was the complete package: home of darling sitcoms like The Office, buzzy dramas like House of Cards, exclusive venue for movie events like Bird Box, and all for less than $10 a month. . Now, as the value of the streaming service plummets, the big question is: are you still watching? And if so, what exactly?

I certainly have a hard time answering this question. The other night, as I spent 10 minutes looking for a show to help me sleep – Ozark (oof), The Ultimatum (hard pass), Serial Killer with Piers Morgan (yikes!) – I felt like a 90s viewer, aimlessly turning around for something, anythingwatch.

Since NBC took over The Office and HBO Max did the same with Friends, well, it can’t be said exactly that the Emperor has Nope content. It’s just that Netflix’s whole approach favors quantity over quality.

Critical hits like The Crown, Black Mirror and Russian Doll all started a while ago and new seasons can’t capture the water cooler excitement of previous episodes. Netflix’s attempts to reclaim the buzz have been spotty: Space Force promised big stars (Steve Carell, John Malkovich) to send in a laughable Trump-era program, but it ultimately failed. Sex/Life is softcore porn with little storyline, an eight-hour episode of Red Shoe Diaries. Bridgerton, for all his creative remixes, still works from an outdated archetype, period drama. Netflix movies, too, are hardly worth recommending. Netflix’s Oscar-nominated and star-studded centerpiece Don’t Look Up, equally heavy in its environmentalism and Adam McKay directorial tics, is a tough sell.

Even when the company has tried to play it safe with huge name talent poached from other networks, Netflix hasn’t necessarily stoked fears of missing out. Netflix’s $60 million man Dave Chappelle caused the streamer more trouble than he was worth with a 2021 comedy special that lit up the trans community. Meanwhile, all the supposedly expensive streaming records like 2017’s Will Smith sci-fi drama Bright (which cost $90 million) or the overhyped dramas from Ryan Murphy’s $300 million deal prove that subscribers will watch anything with a big star attached just because it’s available on Netflix; no matter how good they are.

Netflix is ​​not just a media company. It’s up there with electricity and the telephone in the list of inventions that have changed mankind, a cure for boredom and laziness. When going to the video rental store became too tedious, he delivered the DVDs directly to our mailboxes. When the mailbox got too complicated, it delivered the same content straight to our TVs and laptops. He didn’t just make favorite movies and TV reruns available to us around the clock while making high-caliber original programming. He did all of this consistently enough that we were abandoning terrestrial television in droves.

But ever since Netflix changed home entertainment forever, rival media companies have been racing to develop their own streaming apps, many of which arguably have better value than Netflix. HBO Max not only has beautifully crafted TV (Euphoria, Last Week Tonight) and the entire Warner Bros library at its disposal; it has The Batman and other blockbuster films six weeks after their theatrical release. Disney+ stubbornly reuses the Star Wars and Marvel universes, the kind of IP Netflix could only dream of. Paramount+ includes the NFL, March Madness and the Champions League. Prime Video is free with signups for continued expedited shipping. With each new studio subscription app, Netflix becomes more and more a victim of its own success.

It took a lot of jolts before Netflix finally won its first major award for original programming, with the pilot episode of House of Cards winning a 2013 Emmy for Outstanding Directing. Apple TV+ has been a thing for barely five minutes, and yet Ted Lasso and Coda have cleaned up this awards season. Overall, Apple seems to have reversed the whole Netflix ratio, doing more with less.

That’s not to say the competition has completely overtaken Netflix. As someone who wasn’t ashamed to buy DVDs from subway rig vendors, I love that Netflix is ​​picking up Nollywood bangers like How to Ruin Christmas and relaunching One on One, Half & Half and other treasured black sitcoms from my teenage years. Even some of the original programming deserves props. The Upshaws is a hilarious sitcom that could get more critical attention.

Netflix is ​​also on a hot streak in the reality TV department with Love Is Blind, Is It Cake? and other variations on the genre. Formula 1: Drive to Survive also belongs in Netflix’s win column; the sport owes much of its resurgent popularity to the backstage series. And yet, Netflix still has nothing on Bravo, VH1, Lifetime, and other cable stalwarts in the drink-thrower and wig-stealer department.

Beyond a handful of titles, there’s not much to keep viewers tuned in to Netflix outside of the usual – which is pretty much where many of them were. with the cable before cutting the cord and downloading the app. Netflix was cool, a real disruptor. But success made him fat and dull, with an inordinate appetite for ever lower calorie content. It’s become the very thing he once despised – just another expensive TV package. That doesn’t mean people won’t watch. But surely more must think about it.

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