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Streaming Wars: Is the Netflix Empire Declining?

Alana Matthew | 101 Magazine Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

Netflix started out in a time where Blockbuster was alive and consumers were new to the idea of a streaming service. Their bright eyes, bushy tails and zero competitors allowed them to dominate in an unheard of space. But, as more companies start to realize the billions of dollars in this market, the sun is starting to set on the Netflix empire.

Netflix experienced their first huge decline in the last decade where they lost over 900,000 subscribers in just three months ending in June 30. And as the public is beginning to notice, they’re scrambling to get their money and popularity back at any cost. Part of this scrambling includes adding a new tier to their subscriptions, one that includes ads expected to be in motion early 2023. According to Bloomberg, subscriber loss this early in the year forced Netflix management to embrace the very thing that they were trying to avoid. 

Queen-Ambiance Drakes, a sophomore film major at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, chalks Netflix’s decline to the soon-to-come ad tier.

“They’ve definitely lost it [the top spot] with adding the ad tier like Hulu and raising prices despite declining in quality,” she said. “At this point, any streaming service is better than Netflix.” Wow strong quote

While being in talks of adding this new tier, subscribers of the past and present have vocalized their opinions about why Netflix is in decline. Stock drops and a newly announced ad tier hasn’t been the most chilling factor of the streaming service’s decline. 

Annika Dean, a sophomore TV and film major at Howard University, attributes their decline to their constant cancellations of popular TV shows. “They keep canceling great projects [like the] “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and “Elite”, to support mediocre ones,” she said. “I still use Netflix for older shows that are still in production…but I primarily use HBO Max.”

In addition to Netflix adding a lower-priced ad tier, they’ve also discussed removing one of the things that allowed them to carve out a lane in this market, their “binge” model. For those unfamiliar with the term, to binge in this context, means to watch multiple, if not all, the episodes in a TV series in one sitting. Recent news suggests the streaming platform may move to a weekly episode formatting therefore, forfeiting their slot as the only platform with the default roll-out blueprint.

While people agree with the notion that Netflix is in its “flop era,” others disagree. The disagreement lies within the speculation that no one can put out original content like Netflix. Popular shows like, the one that gained them great notability, “Orange is the New Black” can’t be recreated by any other platform.

Sarah Jones-Smith, a graduate student at Arizona State University and alumna of Howard University, attested to this. “What is keeping Netflix alive and will continue to keep it alive are the original series,” she said. “People love shows like ‘You,’ ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Bridgerton,’ etc. and you can’t find them anywhere outside Netflix.”

Netflix does have popular originals series, but many subscribers buy Netflix because of their catalog of Cable shows that are no longer on the air. Shows like “The Office” and “Friends” were formerly Netflix’s moneymakers, contributing to 72 percent of their viewership according to Nielsen data. But those shows have since moved to other platforms like Peacock and HBO Max. These platforms in particular, plus Disney+, have recently given Netflix steep competition in the streaming wars. 

Kristin D., a sophomore marketing major at Howard University, commented on Disney+’s successes despite rooting for Netflix. “I don’t think a single service will be able to replace Netflix. However if there was one it would be Disney+,” she said. “They have access to the youth and fantasy fan demographics— Marvel, anime, etc.”

Netflix media representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Poll from my instagram account on the following question, “Do you think Netflix is in decline?” The answers in percentage form and the choices they were asked to vote from.

This is where Netflix has some work to do, listening to their past and present subscribers in efforts to create the optimal platform they once had. The tweet below is just one piece of discourse around the topic, the social media platform has been the home of speculation surrounding the topic.

If subscribers continue to be on a decline Netflix may have to come up with a new signature phrase, because unfortunately the people may not still be watching. 

Alana Matthew

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