Netflix breaks silence on canceled shows — 'a lot of these shows talk to a very small audience'

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It seems like barely a week goes by where Netflix isn’t in hot water for canceling yet another TV show, and the frequent online backlashes are only getting bigger. In fact, the list of Netflix canceled shows in 2023 already contains multiple entries and we’re less than a month into the new year. 

After being silent on the matter for the last few months, Netflix's co-CEO Ted Sarandos has finally responded to the accusations that the platform has been trigger-happy with recent cancelations via an interview with Bloomberg. “We have never canceled a successful show,” Sarandos told the publication. 

“A lot of these shows were well-intended but talk to a very small audience on a very big budget. The key to it is you have to be able to talk to a small audience on a small budget and a large audience at a large budget. If you do that well, you can do that forever,” Sarandos also explained. 

So, there you have it, the reason seemingly popular shows like 1899, Warrior Nun, The Midnight Club and First Kill were unceremoniously axed is that they simply didn’t speak to a big enough audience. Of course, exactly how many viewers a show needs to attract in order to be deemed “a successful show” by Netflix is unclear. But it’s highly likely that the specific viewership figure differs based on a number of factors including a show’s production budget and also its content genre. 

There is also significant evidence that suggests it’s not just about the total number of viewers but also a show’s completion rate that determines its chances of being renewed. Last year, Neil Gaiman, creator of The Sandman, took to social media to urge interested Netflix subscribers to binge-watch the series within its first 30 days from release if they wanted to see the show continue with a second season. 

Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue against the notion that Netflix’s notoriously swift cancelations are hurting the odds of its original content finding greater success. After all, why bother getting invested in a Netflix show if you can’t be confident it’ll get picked up for another season? 

In fact, Netflix’s streak of merciless cancelation has gotten so bad that we often advise subscribers against getting attached to a new Netflix show just in case it ends up on the chopping block mere weeks after its debut. And that scenario has become far from uncommon over the last couple of years. 

While the internet may continue to rage against the latest Netflix axing, clearly the streamer doesn’t regret any of these decisions and believes that each cancelation is justified. And considering it recently announced a sizeable growth in subscriber numbers over its last quarter, it’s hard to argue that its position as one of the best streaming services is under any serious threat. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.