Netflix, the popular internet video streaming service, has been making changes to its lineup recently. Among the numerous additions and subtractions, many shows originally aired on television have been dropped while the company has added many of its own original productions, which are available exclusively on Netflix.
Among the 108 titles removed from streaming in the 2017 alone are M*A*S*H, 30 Rock, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, CSI: New York and Miami, House Hunters, Murder She Wrote, American Dad!, Bones, House M.D, The X-Files, Bob’s Burgers, Futurama, MacGyver, The Cleveland Show, Friday Night Lights, The League, Malcolm in the Middle and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
This is not a new phenomenon, as the website constantly revises its content. However, it does seem that more big name shows are leaving Netflix. Despite the departure of traditional shows, the streaming service has been expanding its in-house productions, dubbed Netflix Originals. With the capital from their expanding client base and the savings from running fewer traditional programs, Netflix has made successful attempts to infiltrate the lucrative content production market with titles such as Stranger Things, Narcos, and several comedy specials, among others. With the decline of traditional television shows and the rise of exclusive content, Netflix has come to more closely resemble premium content providers such as HBO, rather than the universal access and television replacement which brought many to the platform.
Exclusivity is the key to understanding these changes as Netflix finds itself in a battle for content. Not only is Netflix producing exclusive content for its own platform, but many movie and television producers are teaming up with steaming services to offer their own exclusive content. Such deals have drastically hurt Netflix, as 21st Century Fox, CBS, and FX have all begun to pull their content from Netflix. Many of these companies are taking their business and their shows to a competing streaming platform like Hulu or providing their own platform, such as CBS All Access, which is available through Amazon.
Currently, Hulu maintains several shows dropped from Netflix, as they have managed to retain their rights to stream content from 21st Century Fox, CBS, and FX, in addition to some shows which were never available on Netflix such as Seinfeld, Southpark and Rick and Morty, among others. Additionally, for an extra fee the service provides access to HBO and Showtime, among others. It is important to note that Netflix retains the rights to several producers not available through Hulu, such as its own award-winning originals, AMC (the producers of Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad), and free access to some Showtime content.
With the rapid pace of shows leaving Netflix, it may be time to make the switch from Netflix to another streaming service, such as Hulu. What is abundantly clear is that Netflix no longer supports a wide enough variety to replace traditional television for those seeking to cut cords and avoid high cable fees. In the arms race for exclusive content, neither streaming service may be able to provide sufficient access; Netflix users who switch to Hulu will experience a refreshing variety of content but mourn the loss of high quality Netflix originals. Although, Hulu has also been diving into the original content pool with movies and series like their award-winning dystopian dramatic series The Handmaid’s Tale and the superhero series Marvel’s Runaways.
With companies such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and the networks themselves all producing content which is exclusive to their own particular streaming services, no single subscription will provide access to all of the quality content which viewers desire. Instead, cord-cutters may be forced to buy multiple subscriptions, reducing the price gap between internet streaming and cable. For those unable to afford multiple subscriptions, hard choices will have to be made.