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Here's Why Netflix Cancels So Many Shows

Lots of shows get axed after one season. Here's why.
PHOTO: Pixabay

Like many other people, you may have had your heart broken by Netflix in the last few months or so. The platform is notorious for cancelling shows and in the last year we've lost a long list series from Ru Paul's AJ and the Queen, The OA, and even cult favorite Bojack Horseman.

You may think Netflix is just trying to ruin things for the fun of it, but there's actually a developed strategy behind their tendency to cancel shows, even ones with passionate fan bases like Insatiable or Anne with an E, which is currently the center of a 700,000 signature strong petition to get the show back for season four.

Netflix is notoriously tight-lipped about their viewing figures, but one reason why shows get cancelled is that seasons two or three is when viewers tend to level out, either sticking with a show for life or dropping it, and according to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Netflix's strategy is all about variety.

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This means it's better to have more shows with fewer seasons than fewer shows with longer seasons, the hope being that they can attract more viewers who'll be able to find something they want to watch. But this does mean, that unless shows become really big hitters and rake in awards, like Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things and House of Cards, they're likely done for after the two or three seasons.

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One of the problems with this is that it could be contributing to the death of niche tv, because unless shows become mainstream hits they risk being canceled. Take Spinning Out, Netflix's competitive ice-skating drama starring Kaya Scodelario and January Jones, and Next in Fashion, the streaming services answer to Project Runway hosted by Alexa Chung and Tan France.

Both shows were canceled after one season, presumably because they weren't lucrative enough (although due to Netflix's secrecy about their shows, we can't say for sure), and while neither show was mainstream, both cancellations were met with confusion from fans who had loved the shows.

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Another issue this creates is a lack of diversity in programming. One Day at a Time was Netflix's Cuban-American family sitcom which was cancelled after three seasons, a blow to the already minimal representation of the Latin community on TV. Journalist Vanessa Erazo wrote about this loss for The New York Times saying, "Aside from being a joy to watch, it is a rare example of a television show about the United States-born children and grandchildren of Latin American immigrants.

"It’s a loss for Latino audiences that is even more profound than the industry’s diversity numbers reveal," Erazo contintues. "One Day at a Time is a show about the lives of Latinos in the United States, with a Cuban-American woman at the helm, at a time when these things are all too rare."

Additionally, according to Pop Culture, Netflix's original shows get increasingly expensive the longer they go on. Reportedly Netflix gives pay rises to the cast and crew of a show every series.

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With producers presumably expecting bigger budgets to keep viewers engaged, each series a show goes on for it becomes more expensive with potentially no more audience engagement.

So there are explanations for Netflix's decisions to cancel shows, but even so, that doesn't mean people are happy about it.

So, next time Netflix cancels a show you love, at least now you'll know why. Although that probably won't help.


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.