Why Netflix cancels shows after a month

The French series Funny was canceled by Netflix just 4 weeks after going online. The decision is no exception: The subscription video-on-demand platform has a theory for whether or not a production will work in the long run. Much to the chagrin of taking risks and creativity.

Three years to create, 28 days to cancel. It is the sad fate that has known Funny, the French series that Netflix has chosen not to renew for a new season, the Inrocks learned on May 12. The series was put online on March 18.

However, the teams had heard the news even earlier: It had been 28 days since Funny was online when we were told it would be cancelled. That’s extremely fast Fanny Herrero, the showrunner, confided to Télérama during the trial. Netflix asks questions from the public: the series would not have” didn’t like his audience “To the chagrin, even of the platform’s French teams, according to the Inrocks.

Only one month to give a series a shot? The time frame may seem extremely short. Especially in our case, when it comes to a highly anticipated production, from one of the most prominent French showrunners, who pushed the codes of smooth productions to provide an energetic narration with detailed characters.

4 weeks to reach or leave your audience

Funny is in fact far from an exception. Chances of the calendar wanted Vanity Fair to publish a lengthy survey the day before about Netflix’s creation and distribution policies in terms of series, interviewing the showrunners (people who have a vision for almost all stages of creation) who have developed projects for the platform. One of them, on condition of anonymity, confirms this mysterious four-week rule: Netflix has a philosophy: how a series is doing in its first month, during its first season, is the best indicator of how it will perform forever.

This doesn’t seem to be true anywhere else. There are so many series that find their audience over time thanks to word of mouth. Certainly in the current environment where there is so much television: few programs are a hit in one evening. “Continue this regularly.

What were the target groups of? Funny † How many viewers had stopped watching the series along the way? Netflix won’t tell. She just shared these numbers with the teams of the series, kept silent. † Even if we didn’t have 60 million ‘views’, it deserved to exist on the platform “, a regret the actor Younès Boucif (Nezir in the series).

Younès Boucif in the Funny series on Netflix

The platform has been using its own metrics since its inception and looking at the numbers it wants to make its choices. In public, she has long communicated only the number ” viewing intentions », which is the number of people who watched the first two minutes of an episode or movie. Today, the company also provides a weekly ranking of the most viewed content based on hours of viewing.

Binge-watching: one of the keys to understanding

Before the deployment of the other giants Disney+, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+, Netflix had time to impose a new mode of consumption: put an entire season online, the same day at the same time. the practice of binge watch, until now reserved for those who had DVD boxes or who downloaded entire seasons, then spread and became more democratic. The term is inextricably linked to online subscription streaming platforms.

Evolution of Google searches for the term
Evolution of Google Searches for the Term “Binge Watching” Since 2004 //Source: Google Trends

But this emphasis on binge, which has sparked countless debates among series enthusiasts, as well as among observers overwhelmed by this democratization of a practice that has hitherto been more fringe, has direct implications for how Netflix makes its choices. When you consider that in a week or two a series that has just been released could be “binged” by tens of millions of people, the cursor is placed here to determine the fate of the others. The operation is so different from linear television that it would be almost pointless to compare the differences between renewal decisions.

Ted Sarandos, the company’s co-CEO, isn’t hiding it: We are currently not satisfied with the subscriber growth (…) We need to produce one (…) Bridgerton Chronicle per month and we need to make sure it is the level of demand we have for our service he recalled in April, as Netflix suffered a historic loss of 200,000 paying subscribers in a quarter.

Season 2 of The Chronicle of the Bridgertons, a tacky series produced by series queen Shonda Rimes, gained 200 million weekly viewing hours after going online last April. Also, the first season could again bring in 50 million hours of viewing – paradoxically showing that a new season can revive interest in a season 1 and bring a series to life in the long run.

The streaming giant has rarely bent its rule for broadcasting series by “block” of a season, unlike the competition: Disney+ has managed to stir up the sauce around its original production Wandavisionwhich might not have attracted so much attention if the episodes hadn’t been uploaded weekly.

From there, to say that Netflix wouldn’t give any original show a chance would be an exaggeration: The multinational is constantly testing things, as evidenced by nuggets like Sense8 the OATuca and Bertie or the miniseries unbelievable et unorthodox† The observation is, nevertheless, inexorable: few original series, more niche (or “more divisive”, from the consumer’s point of view) than a Bridgertongo beyond the second or third season.

Keep in mind that Netflix is ​​like a big audiovisual supermarket. As in all supermarkets, there are the main aisles filled with the flagship products of well-known brands that customers buy mechanically, and there are the smaller stands that are less crowded, with fewer products, a little more expensive and tastier. These do not generate crowds, but increase the overall quality of the consumer experience. You still have to remember to fill the shelves.

Source: Montage Numerama

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