Netflix is the undisputed champ of the online streaming market, at least for the moment. To get to that position, the company had to put out immense amounts of online content, from movies to shows. Not all of those shows survived the first season, leading to Netflix gaining notoriety for canceling promising shows for seemingly no reason. During the Paley International Council Summit, Netflix's Global Head of TV, Bela Bajaria, explained why the streamer's cancellation records are better than people imagine.
"If you look at season twos and more, we actually have a renewal rate of 67%, which is industry standard. We also do make a large amount of first season shows, which sometimes feels that we have more first season cancellations but if you look at the renewal rate it's really strong. I also think you have to look at The Crown, with season four launching now, Grace & Frankie and The Ranch, we've had long running shows and we're always going to have a mix that are great to be told in a limited series form and shows that go on for multiple seasons."
In the recent past, Netflix has come under fire by fans for canceling a host of shows with dedicated fandoms, including GLOW, Teenage Bounty Hunters, and Away. According to Bajaria, one reason so many shows get axed is that Netflix orders an entire season of a new show instead of just the pilot, as is the norm on network television.
"I've been in the business a long time and been on all different sides of those cancellations. It's always painful to cancel a show and nobody wants to do that. We order straight to series in the first rather than make pilots, which results sometimes in more season one cancellations. Even with that, I still believe a season order is still a better creative expression of a writer's idea so I still think that's the right model for us."
The simple fact is, online streaming is a different beast from network television, and it is not fair to expect Netflix to follow the rules of traditional television studios when it comes to deciding what program works best on their website. For his part, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos believes his company's method of content creation allows for a more refined view of what makes a show successful, which is the quality of the show itself, and not how many episodes it manages to push out.
"It seems like in this new age of television, the business model is a little different. The things that marked success prior to Netflix and OTT really had been getting to syndication, that was the goal and anything that didn't get to 100 episodes or past the four seasons didn't feel like a success, whereas I think many shows can be a success for being exactly what they are and you could tell that story in two seasons or one season or five seasons. I think it gets talked about so much because it's measured against the old way of doing things."
This news was first reported at Deadline.