Why Netflix is ​​canceling shows after just one 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 as to whether or not a production will work in the long run. Much to the chagrin of risk-taking and creativity.

Three years to create, 28 days to cancel. It is the sad fate that she 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 went online on March 18.

However, the teams had learned the news even earlier: It had been twenty-eight days since Funny was online when we were told it wouldn’t continue. Which is extremely fast “, Confided Fanny Herrero, the showrunner, to Télérama in the process. Netflix raises questions from audiences: the series would not have ” did not find his audience “To the chagrin, too, of the French teams on the platform, according to the Inrocks.

Just a month to give a series a chance? The time frame may seem extremely short. Especially, in our case, when it comes to a long-awaited production, by one of the most important French showrunners, who pushed the codes of fluid productions to offer an energetic narrative with detailed characters.

4 weeks to reach your audience or walk away

Funny it is indeed far from being an exception. The occasion of the calendar wanted the day before Vanity Fair to publish a long poll dedicated to the creation and distribution policy of Netflix in terms of series, interviewing the showrunners (people who have a vision on 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 performs in the first month, during its first season, is the best indicator of how it will behave forever.. “

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

What was the audience of? Funny ? How many viewers had stopped watching the series along the way? Netflix won’t tell. He has just shared these figures with the teams of the series, which he has kept quiet about. ” Even if we didn’t reach 60 million “viewers”, it deserved to exist on the platform “, a sorry actor Younès Boucif (Nezir in the series).

Younès Boucif in the Funny series on Netflix

The platform has been using its own stats since its inception and looks at the numbers it wants to make its choices. For some time now he has only publicly communicated the number ” viewing intentions », That is the number of people who have seen the first two minutes of an episode or a film. Today the company also provides a weekly ranking of the most viewed content based on the volume of viewing hours.

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: to put an entire season online, on the same day at the same time. The practice of binge-watching, until then reserved for those who had DVD boxes or downloaded entire seasons, it then spread and became more democratic. The term has become inseparable from online subscription streaming platforms.

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

But this emphasis on binge, which has created numerous debates in the circles of fans of the series, but also among observers overwhelmed by this democratization of a practice so far more marginal, has direct consequences on the way in which Netflix makes its choices. If you consider that in a week or two a newly released series can be “stuffed” by tens of millions of people, then this is where the cursor will be placed to decide the fate of others. The operation is so different from linear television that comparing the differences between renewal decisions would be almost meaningless.

Ted Sarandos, the company’s co-CEO, doesn’t hide it: We are currently not satisfied with the growth in subscribers (…) We need to produce one (…) Bridgerton Chronicle per month and we need to make sure this 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 one quarter.

Season 2 of The Bridgerton Chronicle, a tasteless series produced by series queen Shonda Rimes, got 200 million watch hours a week after going online last April. Also allowing the first season to reap 50 million viewing hours again, which paradoxically shows that a new season can rekindle interest in a season 1 and give birth to a long-term series.

The streaming giant has rarely broken its rule of broadcasting series per “block” of the season, unlike the competition: Disney + has managed to shuffle the sauce around its original production Wandavisionwhich may not have generated as much attention if the episodes weren’t uploaded weekly.

From there to say that Netflix would not give a chance to any original program would be an exaggeration: the multinational continually tests things, as shown by nuggets like Sense8, The OA, Tuca and Bertie or the miniseries Incredible et Unorthodox. The observation is however relentless: a few original series, more niche (or “more divisive”, from a consumerist point of view) than a Bridgertonthey continue their way beyond the second or third season.

Remember that Netflix is ​​a kind of large 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, less crowded stands, with fewer products, a little more expensive and tasty. These don’t generate crowds, but they do increase the overall quality of the consumer experience. You still have to remember to fill the shelves.

Source: Montage Numerama

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