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Netflix has made a big change and you probably didn’t even notice

Updated May 9th, 2022 3:01AM EDT
365 Days Part 2 netflix
Image: Karolina Grabowska/Netflix

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It’s not quite a “great reset,” but a confluence of factors has brought about a significant moment of change for the world’s biggest streaming service. The company is cooking up an ad-supported tier, and laying off employees, partly as a consequence of facing more adept streaming rivals than ever. Subscribers, meanwhile, have increasingly voiced their anger over price increases. A password-sharing crackdown is also coming, and junk titles (like crappy reality shows) proliferate more than ever on the platform. Netflix movies have also been disappearing from the streamer over the last few years — in a big way.

As a matter of fact, the degree to which Netflix has pared down its movie library might actually surprise you. The website What’s On Netflix has published an analysis of Netflix movies in the US — which found, among other things, that back in May 2015 there were 4,751 films available to stream.

Netflix’s shrinking film library

The US is, no surprise, Netflix’s biggest market. It’s also where, as of today, the number of movies available to stream is down almost 40 percent from 2015. There are only a little more than 3,000 films today for US subscribers to enjoy, with 1,735 having left the platform since mid-2015.

That might sound like quite a drop, but you also have to keep something else in mind.

Over the same period, Netflix has ramped up its own original movie production, delivering for subscribers movies like Red Notice, The Adam Project, and the current #1 English-language Netflix film globally, 365 Days: This Day. In other words, the paring-down of Netflix movies from the streamer’s available inventory actually looks even more pronounced if you set aside the originals that Netflix has added to the pile over that same period.

More importantly, though, what’s the implication here? Well, to some subscribers, this could make them feel like they’re paying more for less over time. Especially if those subscribers are cinephiles — and movies, remember, were what Netflix was largely built around in the early days. Heck, it’s right there in the name of the product itself, in the second syllable.

What are the Top 10 Netflix movies?

Over time, of course, the balance has gradually shifted such that Netflix today gets far more attention and scrutiny from the press and from global users for its TV shows, as opposed to its movies. Just look at the latest Netflix global Top 10 lists for proof.

Let’s compare the Top 10 English-language Netflix shows with the Top 10 English-language Netflix movies globally for the 7-day period that ended May 1. Adding up the figures from Netflix’s latest publicly available data, the aforementioned Top 10 Netflix mobies globally garnered a little over 158 million hours of viewing time.

Netflix TV shows, though? Almost 270 million hours of viewing time.

The onus now is really on Netflix to churn out compelling original content, including movies, as a means of exerting more control over its destiny. That content includes the specific Netflix originals below, which comprise the 10 top-ranked English-language films globally on the streamer over the most recent 7-day span.

  1. 365 Days: This Day — 77.9 million hours viewed
  2. Silverton Siege — 20.2 million hours viewed
  3. The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes — 15.3 million hours viewed
  4. 365 Days — 10 million hours viewed
  5. The Vault — 6.6 million hours viewed
  6. How It Ends — 6.6 million hours viewed
  7. The In-Between — 6 million hours viewed
  8. The Adam Project — 5.6 million hours viewed
  9. Sonic the Hedgehog — 4.9 million hours viewed
  10. Shrek — 4.5 million hours viewed

More Netflix coverage: For more Netflix news, check out our coverage of the latest new Netflix movies and series to watch.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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