If you’ve felt like Netflix’s catalogue of movies and TV shows has shrunk over the past few years, that’s because it has.
Since January 2014, the number of titles available on Netflix in the US has shrunk by 31.7%, according to AllFlicks, a site that tracks Netflix’s catalogue.
At the start of 2014, Netflix had 6,494 movies and 1,609 TV shows available (8,103 total), while as of March 23, it had 4,335 movies and 1,197 TV shows (5,532 total). That means Netflix’s selection of movies dropped by 33.2%, and its TV shows dropped by 25.6%.
Why is this?
One potential reason is “exclusivity.” Netflix has made a huge push into “original” shows and movies, and into exclusive global licenses more generally.
In January, Netflix’s head of content Ted Sarandos, announced that Netflix will release a whopping 600 hours of original content this year. That’s 25 days of binge-watching. And Netflix has said it will roughly double its 2015 output of original shows to 31 in 2016.
Sarandos and other Netflix executives have also repeatedly stressed that the company is more focused on exclusive titles than those available on other platforms like Amazon Prime.
Netflix believes these originals (and exclusives) and going to be what keeps consumers plunking down their monthly subscription fees — but they are expensive per-title. So we might continue to see a trimming of the amount of titles in Netflix’s catalogue, though Netflix’s originals will accrue a back catalogue over time (it have only been making them since 2013).
There’s also been some industry buzz that Netflix could begin to face challenges licensing old shows from legacy TV giants, who have increasingly begun to view Netflix as a competitor to the future of their business.
Along with a decrease in titles, we might also see a continued rise in price as Netflix leans in to originals.
Last fall, CEO Reed Hastings hinted at this: “The more we have incredible value, the more we have amazing originals, then we are going to be able to ask consumers for more to be able to invest more,” he said.
In plain English: original content is better, but you are probably going to have to pay more for it.