Netflix’s overall catalogue of movies and shows has shrunk by 32% in the last two years, but there’s one area where it is growing rapidly: originals.
Netflix’s roster of original movies and shows has had an average annual growth rate of 185.41% per year since 2012, and has now reached 111 titles, according to CordCutting.com, which tracks Netflix’s catalogue.
And this production is only scaling up. In January, Netflix’s head of content, Ted Sarandos, announced that Netflix will release 600 hours of original content this year, including 31 original shows. That’s roughly double its 2015 output.
Here’s a chart of the growth of Netflix’s original series, showing the number of titles:
Netflix executives have repeatedly stressed that they see original content as a better investment for Netflix.
“We have gone into [original content] very conservative relative to licensing, and found it has been much more impactful,” CFO David Wells said last fall. CEO Hastings used one word to describe them: “better.”
That’s a good thing for Netflix, as there has been some industry grumbling that Netflix could begin to face challenges licensing from legacy TV giants, who have started to think of Netflix as a threat to their business.
Originals also make it easier for Netflix to expand globally, as the company doesn’t have to deal with the complicated mess that international TV show rights can become.
This is important moving forward, as Netflix’s international presence looks increasingly like its primary driver toward success. Netflix missed Wall Street estimates for US subscriber growth last quarter, but wildly outpaced estimates for international growth.
As Netflix continues to charge into originals, what remains to be seen is whether it can keep up its track record of critical acclaim. The Netflix party line is that the wealth of data it gets from users can help it have a better batting average than traditional networks in funding quality shows. But some analysts have questioned this “secret sauce.”
“Netflix is like any other network, with hits and misses, and we do not expect its data advantage to provide it with a better batting average,” analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote last fall.
But what Netflix ultimately cares about is how effective its originals are at luring in new subscribers, and keeping current ones. And from the fact that Netflix has supercharged the amount of originals it’s pumping out, it seems the company thinks they are its best bet.