Netflix: Is the World’s Largest Streaming Service on Its Last Legs?

Streaming was already taking over before the coronavirus pandemic led movie theaters to close. But circumstances have certainly accelerated the streaming wars. The introduction of HBO Max might be the latest contender. But more streaming services are emerging all the time. And in the midst of it all, one huge question remains: how long until Netflix falls?

A young man watches Netflix
A young man watches Netflix | Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images

Most of its biggest hit shows are winding down

Years ago, Netflix changed the game by adding a streaming option to its DVD-by-mail business model. At the time, no one was doing anything like that. And the few companies that tried — namely, Blockbuster — failed to gain traction. But bit by bit, the competition has increased.

Netflix has stayed relevant by flooding the market with original content. Shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black put Netflix on the map. But with the exception of a few shows, such as Stranger Things, the streaming service’s biggest hits are behind it.

Arguably, Netflix is doing itself a disservice by producing so much original content. Barely a week or two goes by until viewers have forgotten about the latest movie or show. That might not be the best way to cultivate long-term viewership. Plus, there’s the financial aspect to consider…

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Netflix is spending too much on original content

Netflix spent a reported $159 million to produce The Irishman. Martin Scorsese’s 209-minute crime drama then became a major awards contender. But it’s also indicative of Netflix’s shifting priorities. Once upon a time, the company relied on licensed content to gain an audience.

In its early days, the streaming service offered fewer popular movies and shows. But now Netflix is heading down a similar trajectory for a very different reason. More studios are holding onto their content for their own streaming platforms. And as a result, Netflix is moving in a new direction.

Netflix aims to move away from being a hub of other companies’ content. Instead, the streaming service looks to become a movie and TV studio unto itself. But it could be investing too heavily in original productions. For every Irishman, there is a ton of Netflix projects that get completely lost in the shuffle. And the streaming service risks spreading itself too thin.

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HBO Max and Disney+ have deeper content libraries

Over the past few years, Netflix has developed a loyal subscriber base. But it’s brand recognition still pales in comparison to its competition. In particular, Disney+ and HBO Max are tapping into established brands. Moreover, they’re building out with rich content libraries.

After all, the two streaming services boast the respective owners of Disney and Warner Bros. Netflix attempts to carve a niche for itself. But Disney+ and HBO Max already have several built-in audiences they can draw from. Aside from their titular brands, the platforms offer Star Wars, Marvel, Studio Ghibli, and other content.

Other streaming services are owned by big studios. As such, they can offer the one thing Netflix can’t: stability. Far too often, subscribers are seeing their favorite movies or shows suddenly vanish from the service. Netflix is focused on its own content. But how long until consumers decide it’s not worth the investment? The tipping point might be drawing near.