Netflix Reveals Data Around Show Cancellations As Bela Bajaria & Ted Sarandos Discuss New Strategy

Diyah Pera / Netflix

Netflix has countered accusations that it disproportionately cancels more shows than other networks and platforms by revealing data around the percentage of shows that it renews.

The streamer’s Global Head of TV Bela Bajaria revealed that it has a program renewal rate of around 67% – something that she said was in line with industry standards.

But Bajaria and her boss, Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, speaking at the Paley International Council Summit, admitted that it sometimes feels that Netflix cancels more shows than others. Sarandos said it was “disproportionately” big news when a show gets canceled at Netflix.

“If you look at season twos and more, we actually have a renewal rate of 67%, which is industry standard,” Bajaria said. “We also do make a large amount of first season shows, which sometimes feels that we have more first season cancellations but if you look at the renewal rate it’s really strong. I also think you have to look at The Crown, with season four launching now, Grace & Frankie and The Ranch, we’ve had long running shows and we’re always going to have a mix that are great to be told in a limited series form and shows that go on for multiple seasons.

She added, “I’ve been in the business a long time and been on all different sides of those cancellations. 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 cancellations. 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.”

Shows that failed to make it past one season include space drama Away, Teenage Bounty Hunters, I Am Not Okay With This and The Society.

Sarandos said that one of the other reasons was that success was judged against an old metric. “It seems like in this new age of television, the business model is a little different. The things that marked success prior to Netflix and OTT 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, 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.”

Bajaria said that the company was now thinking of itself as a global network, where Hollywood previously was known as an exporter of content. She highlighted shows like Indian Matchmaking and Queen’s Gambit as well as its plethora of shows from Korea and Europe.

“What gives all of us great pride at Netflix is entertaining the world,” she said. I want us always to be at the forefront of [that] and I love that we do that in so many ways.”

She added that she was pleased with the variety of shows that the streamer was now making worldwide and that, in essence, the shows she was looking to commission needed to have a “distinct” and “authentic” voice.

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