Netflix has been weathering a storm as of late. Earlier this month, the streamer confirmed it had lost subscribers quarter-over-quarter for the first time in a decade, and things are expected to get even bleaker in the coming months. Netflix is predicting it will lose a further two million subscribers between now and the end of June.
This news has been warmly received by a surprisingly vocal section of the internet, with some quick to suggest this is just the start of a long-overdue downfall. While many of Netflix’s current woes do seem to be of the streaming service’s own making (canceling shows that made fans yell "too soon!), there are also mitigating factors making the situation look quite a bit worse than it truly is.
Despite the apparent turmoil that Netflix seems to be enduring right now, it’s still a service I'll be keeping in my streaming portfolio. For all of Netflix’s problems, and there are issues I would like to see addressed, it’s still the streamer to beat thanks to its wide variety of content and its remarkable ability to produce must-watch shows. Here’s why I’m not canceling Netflix just yet.
Yes, Netflix hasn’t been doing so well
I don’t want this article to read like thinly-veiled Netflix PR, so let me first concede that Netflix does have several issues that need addressing. For starters, the streamer continues to be extremely trigger-happy when it comes to canceling shows. I wrote about this issue way back in July 2021, and the problem hasn’t improved since.
In fact, in the first four months of this year, Netflix has been on a cancelation streak. Our list of Netflix canceled shows in 2022 is literally growing every single week. On the Verge, The Baby-Sitters Club, Gentefied, Raising Dion, Pretty Smart — and most cruel of all, Archive 81 — are just some of the shows that Netflix has axed in 2022.
I totally understand that Netflix will have its reasons for each cancelation, and none of them are done at random. However, when you see a show like Archive 81 debut to fantastic reviews or Raising Dion becomes the number one show on the platform (albeit only briefly), and then still get axed without mercy, it’s pretty disheartening. At Tom’s Guide, we’ve always recommending not getting too attached to your favorite Netflix shows and that advice rings truer with each passing week.
It should also be noted that Netflix’s reputation as an employer has also come under fire recently. This report from The Hollywood Reporter on the behind-the-scenes drama at Netflix reads like something from HBO’s Succession, and the news that Netflix has culled staff at its official Tudum fansite, which only launched in December, is also disappointing. Especially as it seems like the staffers were blind-sighted by this significant restructuring.
Netflix’s drop in subscriber numbers reported in its last financial earnings is another rod that has been used to beat the streamer with, but some crucial context has been glossed over in the process.
Netflix is down 200,000 subscribers quarter-over-quarter, but the suspension of service in Russia due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine cost Netflix 700,000 subscribers. Without this self-inflicted drop, Netflix would have actually posted a slight subscriber increase. Of course, that excuse won’t fly during the streamer’s next earnings call, where Netflix is already projecting it will lose another two million subscribers.
Variety is the key at Netflix
So, yes, Netflix is in a tough spot right now, and clearly a lot of subscribers have and will continue to walk away over the coming weeks. But the main thing that keeps me paying my monthly fee is Netflix's unbeatable variety of content.
Our best streaming services roundup is filled with worthwhile options, but none of them hold a candle to Netflix when it comes to offerings a library of movies and shows that appeal to just about every taste. My entire family watches Netflix daily, and we have very diverse opinions on what constitutes a good television show or movie.
Just looking at the Netflix top 10 right now and you’ve got an eclectic mix of content from trashy reality TV like Selling Sunset to masterful drama like Better Call Saul (it may be an AMC show, but it's first five seasons are only on Netflix), relatable coming-of-age comedy Heartstopper, to crime thriller The Missing. Plus, there are zany gameshows and high-concept cooking shows aplenty. And I’ve not even mentioned true crime yet, which is a genre that Netflix absolutely dominates.
Households with kids also have the entire Netflix Kids section as well, which offers age-appropriate content for little ones. Sure, many families will subscribe to Disney Plus for that stuff, but usually as a supplementary service. You could conceivable solely subscribe to Netflix and have something to worthwhile watch in just about every single genre, which is not something that can be said for all of its rivals.
Netflix always seems to be trending
Another big reason that I’m definitely sticking with Netflix over the coming months is that the service regularly drops content that everyone seems to be talking about. Of course, a big part of this comes from being the biggest streaming service out there. With north of 220 million subscribers as of April 2022, it's no great mystery why Netflix dominates social media.
Nevertheless, even this week when plenty of outlets were reporting that was Netflix on the verge of crisis, my timeline was dominated by people discussing the new teenage comedy/drama Heartstoppers instead. Not to mention the ongoing hype around the new season of Selling Sunset persists. I’ll admit Selling Sunset is something of a guilty pleasure for me (I’m just watching for the stunning houses, I promise).
The point is that even when Netflix is in a tricky spot, it’s still producing content that gets everybody talking. Yes, the service throws out plenty of duds, and too many of its original movies/shows instantly fade into obscurity. But no other streaming service out there has content with the cultural impact of a Stranger Things or a Squid Game. That’s a big tick in the column for keeping Netflix.
Netflix's lead is closing
Despite my assertion that I won’t be canceling Netflix, the competition in the world of streaming has never been fiercer. Arguably Netflix’s biggest rival, Disney Plus, is finding its groove. Particularly outside the U.S. where the Star channel adds serious content variety, not to mention newly released blockbuster movies as well.
Then you’ve got Apple TV Plus which is steadily becoming a real force to be reckoned with. For just $4.99 / £4.99, it represents the best value for money streaming service, and shows like Ted Lasso, Severance and Pachinko are as good as anything you’ll find on Netflix.
Adding fuel to the fire, Netflix announced yet another price increase at the start of this year, bringing a standard subscription up to a pricey $15.49 / £10.99. The streamer also paywalls access to 4K HDR content, which feels more and more galling with each passing year, especially when its rivals are more generous in this respect.
Netflix has also indicated that it’s looking into the possibility of an ad-supported tier and a major crackdown on password sharing in an effort to claw back its lost subscribers. These two ideas seem pretty ill-conceived to me, and the latter is essentially punishing subscribers who stick around for the sins of those who cancel.
The streaming wars are in a very interesting place right now, and while Netflix still rules the roost, its position as the king has never looked more precarious. I’m still planning to stick around for the foreseeable future, but Netflix needs to keep working hard to keep its subscribers on its side. The days of Netflix being the only worthwhile game in town are long over, Netflix must remember that.