With its seemingly bottomless pockets and countless intentions to deliver engaging and obsession-worthy programming -- not to mention its behind-closed-doors approach to viewer statistics -- Netflix has become one of the biggest gamechangers ever to hit the small screen,with changes widely perceived as threatening to outside TV entities. But in the past month or so, the streaming giant has cancelled two of its marquee dramas while offering up intentions to do more of that. Optimism is rising for top execs elsewhere in the TV spectrum, and here's one frank view from FX's co-president of original programming Nick Grad.
I'm glad they're cancelling shows. They can't have 10,000 shows...I think it brings them back in the ecosystem of where we're all trying to make the best shows and the best decisions. They have a lot more shots and we just have to do better.
Netflix is currently pumping out multiple forms of new content on a weekly basis (many times across both Tuesdays and Fridays), and while some of that programming falls into the films and feature documentaries, the bulk of it is stand-up comedy and TV shows. Cable networks like FX are only able to put out around a dozen TV seasons a year, with upwards of half of generally coming as new series, while broadcast networks are able to produce a handful more scripted series, on top of the plethora of cost-friendly reality shows. Thinking comparatively like that, it's hard to think of a scenario where anyone else in the industry would actually want Netflix to avoid cancelling anything.
Except, Netflix's particular choices to cancel The Get Down and Sense8 could have a downside for other networks. (Beyond the downside that fans themselves were subject to, and not without making some noise about it.) Both of those shows were axed for being so expensive, and basically for not having audiences that justified the high costs. So with them gone, Netflix can probably create another 6 or 7 mid-to-low-finance comedies and dramas that don't need peak viewership in order to justify the budgets. And now that the company is even more dedicated to making riskier and offbeat content, the sky won't even be a limit.
FX's Nick Grad commented on Netflix's cancellations as part of the ATX Television Festival (via Deadline), and he was on stage with HBO's Casey Bloys, NBC's Jennifer Salke and Showtime's Gary Levine. And when Hulu's head of original content Craig Erwich brought up his thoughts on Netflix's cancellations, he had money on the mind as well.
They're capitalist so I assume that they are, at any given time, making the best decision that they think is in the interest of their business. If cancelling shows is the phase where they are, it makes sense.
Of course, Hulu is in the same position as Netflix, in that both companies are still attracting customers at a normal clip. On the flip side, TV networks across the board are having trouble retaining the same kinds of ratings and viewership models that were around before streaming took over. One thing is for certain, though, and it's that competition has never been more fierce between so many competitors. And that viewers always win in that scenario. Okay, so that's two things that are certain.