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They knew exactly how much better their near-monopoly on old films and television programs they had when they were launched was unlikely to last forever. Soon, they knew that the studios that made "Parks and Recreation," "The Office," and "Mad Men" would pull their titles when their licensing agreement expired and build their own platform with them.
The big advantage of Netflix was that it was the first streaming service out of the gate, thus it had the potential to set a new name for itself while all of Hollywood's major studios worked out how to create their own platform.
This is why, beginning in 2013, the service began producing original material to create its own back catalog.
When Paramount () -, Comcast () - and Warner Bros. () - re-emerged their marquee titles, Netflix would have enough material to remain competitive.
"I suspect that licensing popular titles will continue to be part of the competitive landscape of streaming platforms," said Tina Mulqueen, CEO of Kindred PR & Founder of, "but the real differences will be the quality and timeliness of original content."
And there's the gloom.
Instead of taking a strategy-based approach like HBO or NBC (Peacock), Netflix's strategy was to select as much content as possible, for as many different backgrounds as possible.
The problem is, how do you throw enough against the wall, and what will happen? Yes, this strategy was only expanded as Netflix began experimenting with reality shows, documentaries game shows, and as much cheap unscripted material as it may get its hands on.
Regardless of whether or not NBC Universal's shows and movies were on Peacock, Comcast had placed the majority of its shows and movies on Netflix Max and Paramount Global, while Paramount+ and so on.
What percentage of the effort was taken care of?
Netflix Has Too Much Content
Initially, "Saturday Night Live" satirized this buffet-style approach with a sketch that included Mikey Day as a Netflix executive who threw money at literally every idea he had, no matter how half-baked.
The Netflix cooking game show "Is Is Cake?" is now open to those who care about whether an item is or isn't cake. It's one of the most bizarre things the service has ever developed, and it's unclear why it exists. Perhaps someone would have requested such a thing, according to some Netflix executive.
The same hit or miss approach has caught up with Netflix. It's not like Netflix has made bad shows, far from it. Many critics have said that the animated series is the single a streaming service has ever produced, and the new season of "Russian Doll" is getting raves.
While many quality shows don't get noticed when one of a dozen full-season content drops that Netflix released on Friday morning, it's quite difficult to find it on Netflix as soon as possible.
"It was, by all accounts, a remarkable evolution from a company whose previous distribution was DVDs through the US Mail."
"But with the time, Netflix didn't really embrace the quality, franchise-building mindset, and brand building that traditional Hollywood players have always done," Cieslak adds.
"And all three of these things started to splinter them and make them vulnerable to traditional Hollywood leaders." But while Netflix is certainly moving quickly to address these concerns, the industry has changed, and the old guard now has a new lease of life. It's no longer Netflix and everybody else. Disney+, HBOMax, AppleTV, and Amazon are all on their heels.
What Does Netflix Need To Do Next?
Disney+ () - has the advantage of owning some of the world's most recognizable assets. Despite its patience, dropping only or two episodes of its latest Marvel or Star Wars production at a time. While some things worked better than others, even a more mid-level hit like "The Book of Boba Fett" didn't get lost in the mix. Apple+ () - takes a similar approach.
Netflix plummets the zone, but defeats online fanbases by canceling films with broad, powerful but dedicated followings, like "Altered Carbon," "American Vandal," and "One Day at a Time." So distrust is high, and fans begin worrying about starting a new show, at least it gets cancelled right when it begins to get good.
"I first want to give Netflix credit for taking chances with content that other entertainment platforms would not, which resulted in hits like 'Stranger Things,' which were widely denied by other networks," according to Mulqueen.
It appears to be producing a ton of unscripted reality-driven content following 'Tiger King,' which may be damaging its overall content strategy, particularly in a more competitive environment.
The time has come to focus and exert some quality control, and to return to focus on the foundations.
"Netflix must work together to ensure that audiences receive content while they're on the platform, and to produce content that will lead them to the platform in the first place," says Mulqueen.
Outside of a perfect storm of quarantine and big cat sensationalism, much of the unscripted content will be a pop culture phenomenon. It's unlikely that Netflix will honor its content strategy and continue to innovate.