I’m not sure if Netflix will ultimately achieve or even overshoot its stated 2016 goals, but it had designs on 31 scripted TV series this year, with plans to increase that amount in subsequent years. Moreover, most of Netflix’s series are necessary. As in, they’re as good as or better than what’s on cable or Hulu or Amazon. They’re required viewing for TV junkies.
What happens when Netflix is spitting out a great series every week? How does the average viewer keep up with everything on Netflix, plus whatever is on HBO, FX, AMC, Starz, Cinemax and Showtime? Is there a tipping point? Will viewers eventually simply discard their cable packages and rely completely on Netflix for all of their television needs (I know this is already the case for many)?
This kind of monopoly is a concern that Netflix President John Landgraf raised earlier this month after noting that Netflix has 71 series on deck, not including kid shows and foreign-language television.
“I just think that’s something that we as a society should be paying attention to in general. I think it would be bad for storytellers in general if one company was able to seize a 40-50-60% share in storytelling. I don’t think monopoly market shares are good for society, and I think they’d be particularly bad for society and storytellers if they were achieved in the storytelling genre.”
I can sympathize with those concerns, because while Netflix has managed to maintain a steady stream of excellent, quality programming, if they run the other guys out of town, they won’t have as much of an incentive to keep up the level of quality. They can, for instance, rely on more Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider productions to keep the content flowing after they have effectively neutralized the competition.
This is not an immediate concern, of course, but the streaming network does continue to nab all the great properties. Last week, for instance, it announced Friends from College, which has an excellent creator and a foolproof cast.
Today, Netflix announced that they’ve ordered yet another compelling series, G.L.O.W., starring Alison Brie and executive produced by Orange is the New Black’s Jenji Kohan.
Created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch , G.L.O.W. was inspired by the real story of the 1980s female wrestling league. Set in Los Angeles and showcasing big hair and body slams, the series tells the fictionalized story of Ruth (Brie), an out-of-work, struggling actress who finds one last attempt to live her dreams when she’s thrust into the glitter and spandex world of women’s wrestling via a weekly series about female wrestlers.
A female wresting comedy set in the 1980s starring Alison Brie and produced by Jenji Kohan? How are we supposed to keep up with this awesomeness and also follow second-tier cable dramas like Masters of Sex or Fear the Walking Dead?
The answer is: We can’t. Eventually, something is going to give, and when HBO and Showtime are delivering 15 series a year for $15 a month and Netflix is delivering 70 series a year for $10 a month, I think we know exactly who is going to lose out.