In 2023, a year where actors and writers challenged Hollywood by staging monthslong strikes, streaming giant Netflix released roughly 130 less original programs from its platform compared to 2022, according to a new report from Bloomberg, and the dip in original content releases from the streaming giant may be here to stay.
In March 2023, the company told Bloomberg that it is shifting its media strategy, which includes producing fewer projects in the future. Netflix is also reportedly aiming to make 25 to 30 films annually instead of 50.
“Right now, we’re not trying to hit a set number of film releases. It’s about ‘Let’s make what we believe in,’” said Scott Stuber, chair of Netflix Films, in a November interview with Variety. “And let’s actually put forth a slate that we can stand behind and say, ‘This is the best version of a romantic comedy. This is the best version of a thriller. This is the best version of a drama.’”
In the last three months of 2023 especially, Netflix released less original content in categories such as films, documentaries, TV and stand-up comedy specials, which is the “lightest slate of new releases in five years,” according to Bloomberg’s latest report. Data from What’s on Netflix also reveals in the report that the streaming giant released 25% fewer TV series during the second half of 2023.
Netflix customers hit with price increases
The cut in Netflix’s original content releases comes amid a major price hike it pushed on customers in October last year. Customers on Netflix’s Basic plan saw their price increase from $9.99 a month to $11.99, and those on the Premium plan faced a price hike of $19.99 a month to $22.99.
The company’s recent cuts to its production of original content last year also came amid Hollywood’s monthslong strikes from actor’s union SAGA-FTRA and writer’s union WGA, in which both unions demanded better compensation and stronger professional standards.
The strikes temporarily shut down multiple film and TV productions, which lowered costs for Netflix by about $1 billion, according to its letter to shareholders discussing its third-quarter earnings last year. The company also said that it planned to use the extra money to repurchase stock.
“We’re currently running a bit above our targeted minimum cash level, so we expect to increase our stock repurchase activity in the 10 second half of 2023, assuming no material change in our business,” said Netflix in the letter to shareholders.
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