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What's going on with Netflix?

Words by Nathan Irvine

The vultures are circling.

The days of Netflix having a free run at being the number one streaming platform are long gone. Amazon might have been the first serious contender to the crown with its Prime service, but it won’t be the last. Not by a long shot.

In fact, the effects of a flooded marketplace are already taking its toll on Netflix, and most of its competitors haven’t even launched. More on this later.

And on July 17, following its Q2 earnings report, the company posted an 11-percent loss in shares.

The loss is down to a number of factors. Firstly, 4.8 million new global subscribers were predicted to sign up to Netflix. In reality the number was around 2.7 million. Secondly, the company has struggled with worldwide price points that are deemed too costly for most.

However, the third, and biggest reason that Netflix is going through a rough patch is because of the aforementioned competition looming on the horizon and the content slices are about to be a lot leaner for them.

Spoilt for choice

It might not seem like a big deal if you’re not a fan, but Netflix is losing the rights to stream The Office US and Friends. These two heavyweight comedies might be old, but they’re much loved and having them in one place to watch anytime is a massive draw. Especially for those that like to have shows on as background noise.

From 2020 Friends will air on new streaming rival, HBO Max. The Office US has been bought back by the studio that made it, NBCUniversal, for a bespoke, as yet unannounced, Netflix rival.

The Walt Disney Company has already reclaimed the rights to Marvel, Star Wars and other properties for Disney+. And don’t forget Apple TV+, which arrives in 2019, and the fact that StarzPlay has already cut into Netflix Middle Eastern audience share.

As a result, we will have more choice than ever – almost overwhelmingly so – as the days of all the big hitters streaming on one or two platforms are dead.

Original pilot material

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Netflix. One area it excels is with its Original programming. Hits such as Stranger Things, Narcos and comedy specials from the likes of Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais will gain even more focus. And without the mooted $90m needed to keep the likes of Friends for an extra year, they can finance more critically acclaimed movies such as Roma.

So yes, Netflix isn’t exactly having its finest moment right now. It’ll receive more body blows when the big rivals finally launch. But with it can roll with the punches and still come out victorious if it can lean further into its original programming. And let’s be honest, we’ll all be subscribing for Stranger Things 4, won’t we?

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