Statistics Show Netflix's Reputation for Canceling Shows Is Overblown

It's a sentiment that arises every time Netflix cancels any of its original programming, that the streaming service just viciously cancels series too soon, frequently after just three seasons, though some don't even get that many. It's a situation that is distressing for many fans, but according to the statistics it's a reputation that may be a bit overblown.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Netflix's cancellation rate is actually right in line with other networks with the real difference between the streamer and, say, more traditional television networks, is Netflix's lack of transparency with data.

Per Bloomberg's report when one looks at the cancellation date of series canceled prior to a fourth season between 2013 and 2017, Netflix falls right between the most-watched U.S. television network (CBS) and the most-popular premium cable network (HBO). During that time frame roughly 19% of Netflix's series lasted beyond three seasons while almost half made it to season three -- numbers close to what CBS and HBO both reported.

If the numbers are similar, then, why do people get so upset about Netflix axing shows? That can be attributed to two things: volume of shows networks put out and ratings-related data. On the ratings data front, Netflix is notoriously secretive about their viewership information and while cancellations are based on numbers, the public generally doesn't get to know the specific metrics that ultimately drives Netflix's decisions whereas when a traditional network cancels a series, fans are usually aware of the ratings decisions that factor in.

There's also the idea that Netflix's cancellations are more noticeable due to volume. Comparatively, Netflix puts out a lot more original series than networks like CBS and HBO which means that when they cut things, they are often cutting several at a time where other networks may be saying goodbye to just a few at a time. Bloomberg specifically notes that when Game of Thrones debuted on HBO there were three other series that also came out, but they only lasted a couple of seasons.


Still, even with the statistics revealing that Netflix isn't any more "brutal" than other networks when it comes to ending series that's likely not going to be a lot of comfort for fans. Netflix ended the runs of quite a few series thus far in 2019, including Marvel's The Punisher and Jessica Jones, Tuca & Bertie, and most recently sci-fi series The OA -- though fans of the Brit Marling series aren't entirely convinced the show's cancellation isn't just a clever marketing ploy.

What do you think? Do you still feel like Netflix is a bit harsher when it comes cancelling series or do you feel like the data debunks that reputation? Let us know in the comments below.