Netflix have offered an explanation as to why they appear to cancel so many of their original series after just one season.
The streaming service has given us some of the most successful shows of the last decade, from Orange Is The New Black to Stranger Things and beyond. But, it’s also gained a reputation for canceling shows prematurely, despite them showing potential.
In 2020 alone, Hilary Swank’s high-profile space drama Away, coming-of-age series I Am Not Okay With This, and the much-hyped revival of Jim Henson’s 1982 sci-fi classic The Dark Crystal have all been given the chop after just one season for various reasons.
Netflix don’t reveal their streaming figures, but it’s generally understood by now that if a show is canceled early, and a specific reason hasn’t been provided, then it’s typically because it hasn’t performed as well as they expected.
Why do Netflix cancel so many shows?
During an appearance at the Paley International Council Summit, Netflix’s Global Head of TV Bela Bajaria attempted to offer an explanation as to why the service appears to cancel so many freshman shows.
“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 cancelations,” she said according to Deadline.
“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.”
Bajaria acknowledged it was “disproportionately” big news when Netflix cancels a show, in contrast to other TV networks or streaming platforms, but said Netflix have a renewal rate of 67% when it comes to “season twos and more”, citing shows like The Crown and Grace & Frankie as popular examples.
Netflix’s Co-CEO Ted Sarandos offered another explanation as to why it seems like they cancel more shows than anyone else. He argued they’re being judged against the “old way of doing things” instead of being forgiven for taking a more modern approach.
“It seems like in this new age of television, the business model is a little different. The things that marked success prior to Netflix 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,” he said.
“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.”
Upset that Netflix have canceled your favorite series? You’re not alone. We’ve compiled a list of every single show canceled by the streaming service in 2020, from Sabrina to The Society, right here.