If you’ve felt like Netflix’s US catalog has shrunk dramatically since the company started making its own shows and movies, you’re absolutely right.
Since 2012, Netflix’s selection of titles has dropped over 50%, from roughly 11,000 titles to ~5,300, according to streaming blog Exstreamist , which cites multiple former Netflix employees.
Extreamist's sources estimate the height of Netflix’s catalog size was in 2012, before the company began making original content in 2013. They peg the size at around 11,000 movies, TV shows and specials. Using that number, Exstreamist then compared the 2012 catalog size to Netflix’s current roster, using data from Unogs , a site that tracks Netflix data. The September numbers put Netflix’s count at about 5,300 titles in the US.
They found a huge drop of over 50%, and there’s a reason: “exclusivity,” particularly tied to Netflix’s original movies and shows.
The smaller, better future
Originals are a pivotal part of Netflix’s strategy moving forward.
"You should expect us to push toward more 50/50 in terms of original exclusive content and licensed content," Netflix CFO David Wells said recently . And original content isn’t cheap, especially since Netflix pushes for global licenses so it can play the shows and movies for people around the world. Netflix spent a reported $120 million for “The Get Down,” its Baz Luhrmann show about the origins of hip-hop, and awhopping $90 million for a new Will Smith movie.
All told, Netflix has said it will release 600 hours of original content by the time 2016 is done. That would take you 25 days to binge-watch all the way through. 25 days!
Beyond originals, Netflix executives have repeatedly stressed that the company is more focused on "exclusive" titles, in contrast to those also available on other platforms like Amazon Prime or Hulu. That's a recipe for a higher cost per-title.
The focus on originals, and exclusives generally, puts Netflix’s catalog drop into perspective. Netflix has fewer titles, but the company is betting that keeping its catalog full of shows and movies you can’t get anywhere else will get you addicted enough to pay that $9.99 every month, forever.
Netflix declined to comment.