Netflix Boss Explains Why Popular Shows Keep Getting Cancelled

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By Alycia Leach Posted:

Netflix Boss Peter Friedlander has come clean about the streaming service's cancellations of popular shows. 

Netflix continues to break viewing records with hit shows like Stranger Things and The Sandman - the former of which ruled the summer and sparked a worldwide revival of Kate Bush's "Running up that Hill." 

The Sandman's faithful television adaption of Gaiman's beloved comics also proved a hit amongst audiences despite initial backlash towards casting choices. 

More recently, Wednesday has been receiving particularly high praise, leading to hopes for a second season in the near future. 

However, not everything the service does is praised, and perhaps their reputation for canceling popular shows may be most subscribers' biggest gripe.

That dreaded cancellation axe still looms large over several popular shows, and now, one of the company's bosses has weighed in on why that happens.

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In a new interview with Variety, Netflix’s U.S. and Canada scripted series chief Peter Friedlander has shed some light on the service's inconsistent cancellation of streaming shows. 

Friedlander was asked why several of the popular new shows canceled in 2022 suffered that fate, with both First Kill and Fate: The Winx Saga having been axed despite making multi-week appearances on the service's weekly Top 10 list. 

Friedlander stressed that "cancellations are the hardest part of this job" because everyone at Netflix feels "passionate" about the content on the streaming giant. 

"I think you will hear this from many folks, but the cancellations are the hardest part of this job and when I think about the work that both the creators and all the people at Netflix put into them, we care passionately about them, and it’s not something that we take lightly."

Still, Friedlander remained stoic that these cancellations are "part of the job" and have been "part of our business forever," although many may take his words with a pinch of salt given the service could change these practices in the future. 

Friedlander also clarified that the Top 10 is a useful tool for "people to find shows, discover shows, [and] talk about shows" but does not factor into decisions at a board-room level:

"I think the Top 10 is a useful tool for people to find shows, discover shows, talk about shows and also helps you for viewing. The Top 10 really serves in that way, and I think that’s something that speaks to the popularity in that moment, and I think that’s what it’s really about in that moment. And then when we have to make our decisions."

Instead, Friedlander has revealed that Netflix looks at these shows' long-term life and makes decisions about their future based on these estimates rather than how the show has performed in its initial release stage. 

Friedlander gave little detail as to what influences the outcome of these decisions, leaving fans to wonder still what might save their favorite show from the giant's dreaded axe. 

Can Netflix Be Saved?

It's no secret that the streaming giant has had a turbulent year. 

The first two quarters of 2022 saw Netflix bleed subscribers, although the service seems back on track after a nightmare start to the year. 

However, if it continues to cancel more programs, it will likely face another round of subscriber losses. 

One of the primary reasons for a "Cancel Netflix" trend on social media seems to be the wake of a wave of cancellation notices. Subscribers feel badly done when a new show they've become invested in is canceled and storylines are left to float unfinished in the abyss.  

Whilst Friedlander has emphasized that these cancellations are simply part of business, these subscriber losses can't look healthy for the service.

To date, these cancellation waves have not posed a particular threat, but it seems that audiences' patience is wearing thin. Subscribers will likely continue to vote with their wallets until something changes, which could have more serious consequences for the service. 

To prevent this, it may be helpful for the service to be more selective with what it greenlights in the first place and take a steadier approach. Although, given the pace at which Disney+ has pumped out Marvel and Star Wars content, it's no wonder that Netflix is panicking to continue competing. 

Still, quality over quantity will always be the best philosophy, and Netflix being more selective about its output may lead to happier customers and fewer cancellations going forward.