Netflix's cinematic evolution and strategic focus

25 May, 2023

As a trailblazer in the streaming industry, Netflix is generating buzz yet again. The company, recognized for revolutionizing television consumption during the streaming era's infancy with its binge-able original series, is now drawing attention due to its recent continuation of the password-sharing crackdown, now rolling out in the United States. Amidst a climate of escalating competition and dwindling profits, several platforms, including Apple TV Plus and Paramount+, have elected to hike subscription prices. However, Netflix is the first to confront the issue of password sharing across disparate households.

The drivers for this decision are manifold and have been previously scrutinized, particularly with respect to Netflix’s original series. This article, however, seeks to shed light on another facet of the platform's offerings — movies. Assessing only the movie catalogs available on each Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service, Netflix trails only HBO Max, which is bolstered by its role as the final landing spot for films produced by parent company Warner Bros. Discovery and other affiliated networks. Netflix also outperforms Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. The importance of Netflix’s movie catalog to the platform is that even though Hulu has a higher TV demand share than Netflix, when we combine both TV and movie catalogs, Netflix becomes the platform with the highest combined demand share in the US market, as of April 2023.

Despite the strong demand for its film catalog, Netflix relies less on movies to attract and retain viewer subscriptions compared to other platforms. Movies constitute 40.2% of total demand (inclusive of both TV and movies) for Netflix’s offerings, a share that’s higher than Discovery+’s (which has virtually no movies) and Hulu’s only. In contrast, platforms like HBO Max and Disney+ derive nearly 60% of their total catalog demand from films.


These figures potentially illuminate Netflix's recent restructuring of its film division, wherein the company is concentrating more on smaller-scale projects while scaling back the number of new releases to maintain a focus on high-quality output. Despite the platform claiming to have produced some very successful titles in the recent past,  Netflix's latest offerings have somewhat surprisingly failed to secure critical acclaim, a prominent cultural footprint, or extraordinary demand levels.

This reality is echoed in the rankings of Netflix's most in-demand films as of April 2023. Only two of the top ten – Murder Mystery 2 and All Quiet on the Western Front – are Netflix original productions. Notably, the platform's two most in-demand movies, Minions: The Rise of Gru and How to Train Your Dragon, are family films, which indicates the platform’s strong appeal to younger viewers. Other titles, such as The Bad Guys and Puss In Boots, also cater to this demographic. This also highlights Netflix's reliance on licensed content, since all of the most in-demand animated movies available on the platform are licensed titles.


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