The rise and fall of Netflix

5 Mins read

What was once the most popular digital streaming platform on record has taken a sudden turn for the worst in terms of consumption. 

Since 2007, Netflix has been known for their wide range of movies, documentaries and TV series, all accessible to anyone using the service after signing up to what used to be a monthly subscription of £7.99. 

Netflix was a game changer for binge watchers and movie fanatics as everything they could wish for was provided for them within this home streaming service.

Any series you like you’re able to watch on repeat until the early hours of the morning in the comfort of your bed, what an absolute dream!

This subscription also provides an extremely accurate algorithm that lists a number of recommendations related to each of your viewings, along with the ability to save content to a “watch later” list. Users can also add to the “My list” section which is a selection of all your favourite movies or shows. 

In recent years Netflix has also added the option to download content in order to view it without having WiFi or cellular connection, meaning consumers can stream their desired entertainment on their travels, on a plane, on the underground, or in an area with little to no service.

“I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since 2013 and now it’s been a go-to for me ever since. I use it almost every night, to and from work, lunch breaks, the lot! I actually feel like I’m kinda addicted sometimes, it gets quite bad because I always find something to watch and I always want to watch it to take up time”.

Josh O'Connor, Oliva Coleman and Tobias Menzies in their roles (respectively from left to right) as Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburg
The Crown has been one of Netflix’s most popular shows [Netflix]

Emily Heron, 32 year old dance teacher from London, spoke about the main changes she’s noticed since first becoming a Netflix user and what she feels about them.

 “My opinions on Netflix have fluctuated over the years to be quite honest. At first, I’d never seen anything like it and was over the moon. I always had my complaints about the fact that they quite often remove certain shows and won’t add them again for ages but other than I was pretty pleased with what was on there.”

Netflix has commonly made the mistake of removing segments of a show or the entire series which leads to its consumers going off to find another platform to continue or re-watch their favourite shows. 

This is then where Netflix’s losses were the gain of other platforms as they began to lose their responsiveness to provide what the consumers were demanding. People began turning to sites which may be illegally streaming a certain show, however, this was a win for the consumer as this way they didn’t have to pay but also were able to watch their show, or movie, of choice.

“When they introduced being able to download content I was so glad, however, my feelings changed when they slowly started bumping their subscription fee but didn’t make any further improvements to their services,” Emily said. 

“Although I still currently pay £10.99 a month, I’m very much considering cancelling my subscription and joining Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video. I feel they just have more options, you know? A lot of the shows I was watching and want to re-watch have been removed, or some of the older seasons are missing, it’s just become annoying.”

Even though the number of benefits that come with being a Netflix subscriber have increased over the years, unfortunately so has their pricing which many users are unhappy about. 

In the past decade the monthly subscription fee has increased by £2, this may seem minimal, but an extra £24 a year on top of other expenses and outgoings has left a sour taste in many mouths, especially during the current cost of living crisis.

Other digital streaming platforms have gained and profited from Netflix’s misfortune. Disney+ for example, has gained another 14.4 million subscriptions, this being the first time a rival has come close to knocking the streaming giant from its perch. It has also taken Disney’s total subscriptions to 221.1 million.

The result is that Netflix has taken a sudden turn for the worst in terms of consumption. In April 2022 Netflix themselves reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of the year. By extension, the stock was on a rapid decline of approximately 70%, causing the market valuation to decrease from a staggering $300 billion right down to under $90 billion in less than 12 months. 

Over a three month period ending on June 30, 2022, Netflix reported a further loss of 970,000 subscribers. This is the company’s largest quarterly loss since its debut in 1998.

“Honestly, Netflix lost me as a subscriber a long time ago, I think it’s ridiculous how they keep on increasing the price but nothing’s improving”

Isobel Terrant

It was announced early this year that the basic and standard subscriptions will both increase by £1 a month to £6.99 and £10.99 and while premium subscription band will rise by £2 to £15.99 a month.

A company spokesman told Sky News; “We have always been focused on providing our members both quality and clear value for their membership.” Meaning that the subscription prices will be a reflection of the content being showcased within the app.

“Nothing about Netflix’s price increase is worth paying a subscription worth £15.99 every month for, I was literally wasting my money,” said Isobel Terrant, 22. “You would think that a streaming site would be better than what it is, I don’t really understand their angle. Honestly, Netflix lost me as a subscriber a long time ago, I think it’s ridiculous how they keep on increasing the price but nothing’s improving”.

Many people like Isobel agrees that the rise in price isn’t worth it as although Netflix may be adding to their film/shows library, the quality of it isn’t matching up.

“Lots of my favourite films were removed, it’s frustrating going to different platforms when the one you’re paying for isn’t good enough. My favourite show on Netflix was watching Vampire Diaries, I use to watch it all the time growing up so being able to watch it on Netflix whenever I wanted was very nostalgic as it was my comfort show. Last year sometime I remember seeing all over social media that it had been announced it was going to be taken off, myself and so many other people were devastated because it’s such a great show.”

To stream a film on a platform such as Netflix, they must first sign a Digital Exploitation Agreement with the film’s producer. This contract, also known as a Film Distribution Agreement, allows Netflix the right to distribute the film to the public.

Netflix’s licensing duration is based on whether they feel like the show/film is performing well enough on their platform so a range of different factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether the license should be extended or left as is. The circumstances that determine this are;

  • Number of views
  • Geographic market
  • Duration of agreement
  • License to resell, or straight purchase
  • Clauses for reversion
  • Revenue share of commercial insertion (if any)
  • Discount for demographic data sharing
  • Co-branding or cross-market advertising on different platforms
  • Package deal for a number of media properties

“I understand that licenses run out but if you announce that you’re removing something from the platform and you receive such an outrage and backlash because of it, would that not be an indication of how well something was going? I think Netflix need to be doing more and actually listening to their customers, it’s kind of like they just have a mind of their own and don’t take our opinions into consideration,” Isobel said.

in 2023, there has been some speculation that Netflix is going to change the dynamic of password sharing and limit the number of people who can use a single account, in an attempt to encourage users to use a new tier which is cheaper but which carries adverts as well.

Featured image by yousefbhutta via Pixabay CC

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