The U.S. Netflix catalog is highly coveted by international subscribers who aren’t happy with what local Netflix lineups have to offer. Indeed, the selection Netflix offers to American customers beats all other catalogs. But a new report shows that selection has been shrinking significantly in the last few years – though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Looking at data compiled by AllFlicks, Quartz reports that Netflix’s current catalog offers subscribers in the U.S. 4,330 movies and 1,200 TV shows. That’s a great selection compared to the U.K., which gets just 3,000 combined titles while Australia has about 2,000. But in March 2014, the U.S. Netflix library contained 6,500 movies and 1,600 TV shows.
That means Netflix’s movie collection decreased by 33% while its TV series catalog shrank by 26% in two years.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s all bad news for the customer. As Quartz points out, competing services including Hulu and Amazon have significantly improved their streaming offers, making it more difficult for Netflix to score access to exclusive streaming rights. Netflix may have won Friends, but lost Seinfeld to Hulu and the new Top Gear to Amazon.
The report also points out that Netflix might be simply removing old titles that people don’t watch. In 2014, 37% of Netflix titles were produced in the 2010s. Fast forward to October 2015, and that number jumped to 65%.
Finally, one other reason Netflix might not be so interested in offering as much licensed content as it used to concerns exclusivity. Rather than fighting for certain movies and TV shows, a tough battle especially when it comes to bringing them to its international markets, Netflix might be more interested in developing more and more in-house TV series and movies.
This year alone, Netflix will spend about $5 billion on more than 600 hours of original content. That’s the kind of content it can easily make available in international markets, and the kind of selection that would help it hold onto subscribers.
As for new content, here’s a complete list of everything coming to Netflix in April.