Netflix Lost This Hit to Amazon and Things Will Only Get Tougher

Actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge holds three Emmy awards after her series of wins at the 71st Emmy Awards ceremony
Phoebe Waller-Bridge | Dan MacMedan/WireImage

Netflix must be kicking itself for a number of reasons these days. Not only are major companies starting to encroach on the streaming market they have dominated, but a show they lost to Amazon cleaned up at the Emmys this year. 

That show is Fleabag, which surprised many people not only by winning an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, but Best Actress for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who triumphed over category fixture Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep

Why ‘Fleabag’ isn’t on Netflix

In an interview with Netflix chief Reed Hastings, the CEO revealed that he would have liked to have had Waller-Bridge’s show, but he “got outbid for Fleabag,” he confessed. Further claiming that the show was  “the one” that got away.

It’s not hard to see why Hastings was disappointed. Waller-Bridge has become, to use the well-worn phrase, an “it girl.” Among other things, she has gained notoriety for becoming the first woman to write a James Bond film, as she is one of the contributors to the script for No Time to Die, which will be out next April. Jennifer Salke of Amazon told Deadline “Anything Phoebe wants to do, nothing would make us happier to bring another season of her show. Anything she wants to do. I’m forever the optimist.”

Fleabag will not be getting another season as the show has already concluded its run. After the Emmys, Waller-Bridge said, “To be honest, this feels like the most beautiful way to say goodbye to it actually. It does feel like the story is complete … We’re going out on a high. You can’t get higher than this.”

The streaming field is getting crowded

It’s not secret the streaming marketplace is getting larger. Not only are Disney and Apple both debuting their highly-touted streaming services in November, but both are significantly undercutting Netflix’s price point. Disney and Apple will each cost less than $10 a month, while Netflix is often in the news for raising its prices. 

And there is even more competition coming down the pipeline. Next year, Warner Bros. will bring out HBO Max, which will tout programming from the cable giant as well as Warners’ formidable library of films and TV shows. Netflix famously lost Friends to HBO Max. Universal will soon follow suit with its streamer Peacock, named for the NBC logo, which Universal owns.

For his part, Hastings has been anticipating this, and he expressed surprise the competition has taken this long to build up. He added, “sometimes you do your best work when you’re challenged”

How Netflix will meet the challenge 

Netflix is the streaming leader for a reason, and it won’t give up that title without a fight. That’s why it has plenty of heavy hitters ramping up on both the big and small screens. 

On the series front, Netflix is rolling out The Politician, the new satire from Glee/American Horror Story maestro Ryan Murphy about politics in high school. It stars Ben Platt, Jessica Lange, Zoey Deutch, and Gwyneth Paltrow, among many others. Also coming up are new stand-up specials from the likes of Jenny Slate, Arsenio Hall, and Patton Oswalt, and the new season of The Crown, with Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman (The Favourite) taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth. 

Netflix also continues its quest, heightened with last year’s Roma, to be a major movie player as well. Among its films are Eddie Murphy’s Dolemite is My Name, said to be a major comeback for the comic, and Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s latest film which is generating Oscar buzz for leads Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Arguably the biggest entry of them all is The Irishman, which reunites legendary director Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, along with a promising newcomer to his films named Al Pacino.