Does Netflix Make Money Off Its Poorly Made Romcoms?

If Netflix can arguably survive the onslaught of competing services thanks to producing compelling originals, it doesn’t mean Netflix won’t refrain from creating cheaper entertainment. They’ve developed a reputation for producing addicting budget romcoms certain demographics are devouring.

Not that anyone’s really sure if people are watching these. There’s a definite audience for cheesy romantic comedies, though, but how profitable are they, really?

In the case of Netflix, they never release complete ratings information, or at least not yet. One thing for sure is many media analysts think Netflix did the right thing going into the romcom market.

Maybe some readers will think otherwise when seeing some of the titles. Nevertheless, there’s a good bet more people will keep watching.

Why did Netflix go into making more romantic comedies?

Netflix logo on a phone screen
Netflix logo | PA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

No doubt many moviegoers have noticed that the romcom market on the big-screen has a major dearth of late. While some have done well, there aren’t nearly as many made now by major studios as they did 20 years ago. During the 1990s, the renaissance for romcoms was turned up several notches thanks to Nora Ephron almost singularly bringing them back to prominence.

Then there was the era of the dirtier romcoms started by Judd Apatow that still gain a loyal audience, yet rarer nowadays. Only recent Last Christmas took things back to a more magical romantic comedy era, mostly thanks to writer Emma Thompson having awareness of said time.

Netflix probably looked at the sudden slowdown of romcoms and figured they should delve into the market since the genre still has an audience. After all, just look at Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Network in their attention to harmless and family-friendly romcoms many people soak up and equally deride all year long.

It turns out Netflix realized low-budget romcoms were just the ticket. However, since they’re generally deemed poorly made, how many people are really watching?

According to Netflix, their romcoms are being watched in big numbers

If you can believe the numbers Netflix recently revealed, they say 80 million subscribers have watched all their original romcoms produced and released over the last year.

Many deemed Summer of 2018 as the new “Summer of Love” when it came to Netflix’s rom-com revival. Not all of the titles are as well known as others.

One has to wonder if the total number of viewers were fudged a little and relate more to specific titles reportedly doing better. Out of dozens produced last year, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before apparently received the highest streaming rates. A sequel was even produced and will air in early 2020.

Netflix told Variety last year the above film had strong repeat views, even if no specific numbers make everyone question their rating tabulation process yet again.

Other popular romcom titles on Netflix

According to Netflix in that Variety piece, one of their main barometers on how many people watched To All the Boys was how many fans the main stars picked up on Instagram The cast was fairly unknown (Lana Condor and Noah Centineo), yet the fan rates increased exponentially in an hour as soon as the film went live.

Perhaps this does partially gauge accurate viewer response. Netflix probably wouldn’t make more romcoms if other titles weren’t doing nearly as well. Titles like Set It Up and The Kissing Booth are reportedly just as successful and gaining a lot of fans for the few unknown Netflix actors employs.

Their strategy is sound: You can craft a likable love story without high production costs. Hire unknowns or less expensive actors, and one can see the formula is a hot one.

Expect more from Netflix into the coming year since cost-cutting for them is likely a top priority. As the streaming wars truly begin in earnest, Netflix may have to watch the capital spend and start looking at how effective entertainment can be when produced on the cheap.