A recent report from the Streaming Observer reveals that the overall quality of movies on Netflix in the U.S. has gone down considerably in recent years. Back in 2014, Netflix housed 49 movies which appeared on IMDB’s list of the top 250 movies of all time. Four years later, that number has since dwindled down to 35. In other words, a paltry 14% of the top movies of all time are currently available for streaming on Netflix, a list which includes The Dark Knight, Full Metal Jacket, No Country for Old Men, and Jurassic Park.
That said, the decrease in quality movies on Netflix is hardly a cause for concern, unless of course you happen to be a die-hard movie aficionado. Though Netflix rose to prominence by sending DVDs of movies out to subscribers by mail, the company’s primary focus today is a lot different than it was even 6 years ago. As it stands now, Netflix is simply not interested in signing pricey movie licensing deals. If you recall, the company back in 2015 opted not to renew its licensing deal with Epix, and in turn, lost access to some huge blockbusters such as The Wolf of Wall Street and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
These days, Netflix is more concerned with pumping out a staggering amount of original content. Not only does this differentiate Netflix from rival services like HBO, it’s also a more cost-effective strategy. What’s more, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos in 2016 revealed that upwards of 66% of Netflix subscribers don’t watch any movies on the streaming site.
“No matter what,” Sarandos said, “we end up with about 1/3 of our watching being movies.”
Put simply, Netflix wants to be as self-sufficient as possible, a strategy which has the company trying to lessen its reliance on third-party licensing deals. And though this may be a ways off, Netflix CFO David Wells back in 2016 said that the company’s ultimate goal is to reach a 50/50 split between original programming and licensed TV and movie content.
On a related note, it’s not as if Netflix is keen on abandoning movies altogether. Far from it, the company in recent years has devoted more resources towards developing its own movie titles. And though you won’t find any Netflix original movies on IMDB’s list of top 250 movies, subscribers seem to enjoy Netflix’s efforts thus far, even though some of Netflix’s more high-profile efforts — such as the film Bright starring Will Smith — were widely panned by critics.
That notwithstanding, there’s no denying that Netflix films seem to be getting better, with the Chicago Sun-Times noting that “there will be six Netflix films at the Venice Film Festival and eight at the Toronto International Film Festival” this year.
All in all, the number of licensed quality movies on Netflix may be on the decline but that’s somewhat insignificant as the company continues to double down on producing original series that are arguably far more engaging than a lone movie could ever be. So sure, Netflix doesn’t have movies like Fight Club or The Matrix, but it’s a safe bet that subscribers are far more interested in watching the next season of Stranger Things or House of Cards than they are with catching up on movies that were released nearly 20 years ago.