Netflix’s Movie Library Shrunk By More Than a Third In the Last Few Years
Netflix basically invented the modern world of streaming movies, and they’ve got over 200 million subscribers. It’s a ubiquitous service; at times, it feels like everyone and their mom has Netflix. (Or uses someone else’s password.) But the company has in some ways become the victim of its own success.
When Netflix first branched out from renting people DVDs through the mail into offering movies through the internet, studios were giddy at the prospect of earning additional revenue and gladly licensed their titles to the company. But then Netflix streaming became so popular and so successful, every film studio wanted to become their own Netflix; to have their own streaming service and keep all of those profits for themselves. As a result, Netflix has lost a lot of the library that made it so popular in the first place.
In fact, the website What’s On Netflix just published a study of Netflix’s movie library and found that seven years ago in May of 2015, the company had 4,751 titles available for streaming. Today, that number has dropped to just 3,016 films — a loss of 1735 titles, which is roughly 36 percent.
Things look even worse if you account for the fact that in the same span of time Netflix has gone from having almost no original movies to churning out hundreds of original movies as a way to counteract the fact that the major Hollywood studios no longer wanted to license their own libraries. If you take the Netflix Originals out of that 3,0176 films available, then the percentage drop over the last seven years is 55 percent — fewer than half than used to be available.
The small silver lining here is that Netflix’s library is actually a little larger in 2022 than it was in 2020 and 2021 — and even bigger than it was in 2017 when it dropped to just 2686 movies. That was before Netflix had really started cranking out its own films; these days, the company releases dozens of movies every single year, and those movies never expire. Still, 3015 movies is a lot less than in years past. Even more distressing: According to What’s On Netflix, the site currently offers a sum total of 15 films produced before 1970. So film history is essentially non-existent to people whose primary (or only) streaming service is Netflix.
There is a lot more data to look at over on What’s On Netflix. But for now, the bottom line is if you feel like Netflix’s selection of non-original movies has shrunk in the last few years, it’s not a feeling. It’s a fact.