Netflix is spending $6 billion this year on original programming. The streaming giant wants half of all its content to be Netflix originals in the next few years.
This means that viewers are treated to a never-ending barrage of new shows like Stranger Things, American Vandal, and The OA, as well as new seasons of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Unfortunately, this focus on original shows means that popular third-party content occasionally disappears.
In October, 30 Rock, One Tree Hill, Friday Night Lights, and Malcolm in the Middle will all leave Netflix.
Fall will be a particularly gruesome season for fan-favorite shows. Of course, subscribers immediately took to Twitter to complain and seek comfort from other dejected fans.
The reason for so many shows departing is simple. Netflix and the show agree on a contract for a specific time period. When that time is up, Netflix must either renew the show or remove its content.
There are two forces hastening the removal of Fox, NBC, and BBC content.
The first is the previously mentioned focus on original programming. To fund that $6 billion budget, cuts must be made elsewhere. The second is that there is more competition among streaming services for content.
In the past, Netflix could simply outbid Amazon and Hulu for the rights to a show. As more studios start their own streaming channels, Netflix must compete with more players. Complicating things even more, studios can make agreements for bundles of shows which gives exclusive rights to certain streaming services.
This is what happened recently with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution. The studio agreed to a deal with Hulu that gives the streaming service rights to over 3,000 episodes of Fox content, including How I Met Your Mother, Raising Hope, The Bernie Mac Show, and Better Off Ted.
When older shows become less of a draw, Netflix tends to let them go.
The fact that 30 Rock has been on Netflix since 2011 worked against it being renewed. While the show has aged well, it’s not necessarily drawing in new subscribers. Yes, it’s a fan favorite, and many people (including us) habitually rewatch it, but few people are subscribing to Netflix for just one title (especially not an older one).
Netflix relies on a great deal of analytics to make decisions. You’re probably aware that they use statistics to suggest what new shows you might like, but they also use them to see which shows are dwindling in popularity.
“In that case, we do not or cannot renew. We put the money toward other content we think will bring members joy,” a Netflix representative told BuzzFeed. “As we expand our content portfolio, our goal is to continue offering great movies and TV series for our members, while also providing content that is available exclusively on Netflix.”
Don’t think you’ve seen the last of Liz Lemon or Coach Taylor.
Both 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights enjoy solid fan bases that make the shows valuable. There have been no deals announced yet, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see them end up on Hulu. Both shows were made by NBC, which owns 30 percent of the television streaming service.
In the meantime, you can continue streaming the shows on Netflix until October 1. After that, you’ll have to spring for the DVDs or wait for them to resurface on another streaming channel. Luckily, there are around 500 other scripted original series to keep you occupied until then.