Netflix line-up shrinks as it moves from bulk buys

The number of TV and movie titles on Netflix has dropped sharply in the past two years, with the streaming service saying the decrease is because it no longer has to bulk buy from the studios.

Research carried out by movie listings site Allflicks shows the number of TV series and movies on the US Netflix service fell by over 30% between January 2014 and January 2016.

There were 6,494 feature films on Netflix in January 2014, a total that dropped to 4,335 two years later. The volume of TV series decreased from 1,609 to 1,197 across the same period.

Netflix clearly faces more competition for SVOD rights from the likes of Amazon and Hulu, as well as a growing number of local streaming competitors, but claimed other factors were at play that account for the numbers.

The US-listed company acknowledged the sharp fall in the volume of content on its service, but said it reflected its own (closely-guarded) viewing data, and the way streaming deals have changed.

Specifically, Netflix says it no longer licenses film and TV titles from the Hollywood studios in bulk, because many of the shows it was acquiring as part of these huge deals were not getting watched.

As the only global SVOD service and with a huge acquisitions budget, Netflix has gathered leverage in its content deal negotiations. It said it no longer offers the studio shows that were not getting any traction – and which it was compelled to acquire in the earlier days of SVOD.

The streaming service claims the issue is one of quality versus quantity and said it would rather offer a smaller number of titles people will watch over a larger library containing filler content.

Netflix, which has a programming budget of over US$5 billion, is investing heavily in original content and has pledged to almost double the amount of original series on its service by 2017.

“We constantly optimise and improve our library,” a Netflix spokesman said. “We look at how many people are enjoying  Netflix and how many hours they are watching – both more than ever – which indicates they are pleased.”

Tags: Amazon, Hulu, Netflix