Netflix has become the defining streaming service in the modern TV landscape, investing millions into projects which contend for Oscars and Emmys, gathering a vast range of old titles to please all ages, all while invading everyday lexicon with a swift Netflix and chill.
While the platform will always be remembered for kick-starting the streaming age, the coming year could be pivotal for the company. As reported in their second quarter earnings in July 2019, Netflix lost subscribers in the US for the first time in eight years – losing 126,000 subs and falling to 60.1 million paid memberships, down from 60.2 million in the previous quarter.
Its a marginal amount, but the companys efforts are slowing down internationally too. While they added 2.8 million subscribers internationally in the same earnings report, their growth decelerated to 3% quarter-over-quarter, down from 10% in Q1 2019.
Netflix pins the blame on price hikes and a lighter content slate, but its hard not to feel like the platform is losing steam generally as competitors chip at their heels.
The arrival of Disney Plus this November has already started to suck big properties away from them. Marvel movies are expected to be removed, while the cut-throat cancellation of their Marvel TV partnership with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, stripped out plans to build their own TV superhero universe.
Star Wars and Disney animated movies are also expected to be pulled from the platform, and coupled with the impressive roster of Disney Plus shows, including The Mandalorian, Disney remakes, and Marvel shows connecting to their box office-dominating cinematic universe, the broad appeal of Disney will undoubtedly pull away a chunk of Netflixs audience.
Apple TV Plus is also releasing in the same month. While the platform wont offer any licensed content outside its exclusive shows unlike Netflix, its still another huge brand, alongside HBO Max, vying to steal the spotlight in an increasingly crowded market.
The rise of competitors wouldnt necessarily be a problem if Netflix had a strong line-up to keep viewers hooked, but theres few exclusive shows which have landed in a significant way this year. Stranger Things season three is believed to have contributed to a sharp rise in subscribers, while When They See Us has become their biggest chance at awards success with 10 Emmys nominations, but its a small number compared to the amount of Netflix originals pumped out on a monthly basis.
The platforms knack for cancellations has cut short some of their most distinctive shows too. The axing of The OA led to protests outside their offices, and the decision to cancel critically-acclaimed animation Tuca & Bertie, while renewing the stretched 13 Reasons Why, feels like it goes against the platforms original ethos for investing in bold, innovative ideas.