Credit: Netflix

The Problem with Netflix

By Anna Conway

In the era of streaming services, does Netflix still reign supreme?

Netflix has become a household staple since its establishment in 1998 (a lot earlier than most people realise), and over the past 26 years, the platform has risen to one of the most competitive and globally used streaming platforms. However, in recent years, Netflix appears to be losing its strong revered stature amongst viewers, with unimaginative shows replacing cancelled fan favourites, prices increasing, and a newly-enforced restriction on password sharing – more and more people are beginning to question – is Netflix worth its monthly subscription?

But this is not just a subject of conjecture and opinion. Statistics show that the number of households in the UK subscribing to Netflix is dropping. In the second quarter of 2022, roughly 17.08 million households in the UK were subscribed to the giant streaming service, but in the second quarter of 2023, this dropped to 16.7 million. Whilst still an overwhelmingly large number, keeping them in top spot for streaming platforms, this indicates that Netflix is losing its popularity amongst UK households.

On top of issues in production, cancellations and rising prices, the wait between follow-up series or movies on Netflix has tainted the potential of numerous shows and movies on the streaming service. For instance, the recently cancelled fantasy series Shadow and Bone had a two-year wait between season one and season two which resulted in a significant drop in viewership. Such excessive wait times jeopardise the future of many Netflix productions as popularity drops the longer it takes for another series to release. Netflix no longer capitalises on the buzz around new shows or movies, but instead attempts to extend the life of the initial hype, forcing viewers to wait years for an answer to questions left unresolved at the end of many movies and TV shows. But is this effective? I, for one, find it irritating when all you want to do is binge a show that has piqued your interest, but have to wait years on end for this to happen, leaving frustration and resentment to build instead of anticipation, which is sure to be the goal.

In the current economic climate and the uncertainty faced by many with rising costs, the increased price of Netflix year after year is becoming unmanageable for some. In 2019, Netflix used to charge just £7.99 per month for its standard plan that allows viewing on two screens at the same time. Today this same plan costs £10.99 per month. This £3 increase may not appear significant to some but for others this is an increase which can no longer be justified, with it costing an extra £36 per year since 2019. Add on to this the addition of the ‘households’ policy and Netflix is becoming more and more a luxury ill-afforded or justified for many people. The introduction of this ‘household’ policy to prevent password sharing doesn’t consider the existence of university students such as ourselves, with families of students or students themselves paying an extra £4.99 a month which on top of bills, social activities, and the price of books, can be damaging to some students. 

But what are our other options? There are other streaming platforms available, some cheaper and some more expensive. A couple options which are free of charge are platforms such as ITVX, Channel 4 and Pluto which in exchange for free access implement adverts throughout their shows and movies. Rising competitors to Netflix are also of course Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. With Prime Video coming in at £8.99 a month on its standard plan, and even lower at £4.99 on its student plan, Prime is a much cheaper alternative to Netflix and still produces some fan favourite shows and movies, such as the recent and popular The Summer I Turned Pretty and Red, White and Royal Blue. Comparatively, Disney+ offers plans from as cheap as £4.99/month which includes ads, a standard plan of £7.99/month and a premium at £10.99/month. With these prices in mind, it is clear that Netflix is the most expensive option on the market at the moment but ultimately as a viewer you must decide what platform offers more of the content you enjoy and are you willing to pay the price this requires? 

Yes, Netflix remains a well-loved and much used streaming platform, but the endless amounts of poorly constructed TV shows and movies as well as its rising issues of cost and cancellations put its future and ability for growth in conjecture – how much longer until Netflix reaches the fate of its predecessors like Blockbuster, ultimately becoming obsolete for the wants and needs of today’s society.


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