Is Netflix sacrificing quality over quantity?

Netflix has ruled the streaming world for nearly the best part of a decade and they are by no means slowing down! At the end of last year, Netflix committed to releasing new, original content on a weekly basis throughout 2021, but with making this commitment, is the quality of Netflix’s content suffering as a result of their gigantic pipeline?

Tired Content

I’m a big fan of Netflix and I was an early an adopter of the streaming service following its global release back in 2013. Despite being a long-term fan, even I can admit that the quality of some of their shows and movies has seemingly dropped off over the past couple of years. Ultimately, I do think that Netflix’s focus on creating so much content has affected the overall quality of some of their movies and shows.

Last week I watched Netflix original movie, Thunder Force, which was frankly a total disaster. Despite its all-star cast including actors such as Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer and Jason Bateman, the film ended up feeling half-hearted and rushed. This isn’t just an anomaly, I can think of multiple films and series released in the past few months which have felt equally as average and passive; original movie Yes Day and science-fiction series The One being prime examples. 

Compare this to rival streaming service Disney+, who have created some brilliant original content over the past 18 months (granted already established franchises do aid their popularity), and it’s clear to see that they are opting for a ‘quality over quantity’ approach compared to that of Netflix. 

One in Ten

Obviously, not all original Netflix content is as mediocre as some of its recent releases. Netflix is renowned for creating some of the finest content to grace our screens over the past few years, with shows such as Stranger Things, The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit having generated a global fanbase. Knowing that Netflix can create fantastic content like the aforementioned shows, yet we still get the poor content of recent months, it’s disappointing that the ratio of brilliant original content compared to that of average content, seems to be heavily weighted to that of the latter. 

If we look at the last ten Netflix English releases of both original films and original programming (as of 13thApril), we can see the majority of content is seemingly pretty mediocre. Over the past month, we can see that the highest rated piece of new original Netflix content was the controversial documentary film, Seaspiracy (if you haven’t watched it yet, I would highly recommend!). I have no complaints about the average rating given to Seaspiracy, but it’s interesting that an arguably controversial documentary out-rates feature films which include well-known actors such as Idris Elba, Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Garner.

NameFilm/SeriesRelease DateAv. rating on IMDB (out of 10)
Thunder ForceFilmApril 9, 20214.4
Concrete CowboyFilmApril 2, 20216.2
Bad TripFilmMarch 26, 20216.6
The IrregularsSeriesMarch 26, 20215.7
A Week AwayFilmMarch 26, 20215.6
SeaspiracyDocu-FilmMarch 24, 20218.3
Country ComfortSeriesMarch 19, 20216.8
Zero ChillSeriesMarch 15, 20215.7
The OneSeriesMarch 12, 20216.6
Yes DayFilmMarch 12, 20215.7

Whilst there will always be exceptions to the rule, it genuinely does feel as though for every quality piece of content produced by Netflix, there is another 9 films/shows which are just plain average. Ultimately, art is subjective and whilst I agree with the majority of those IMDB ratings above, you may be sat reading this as a huge fan of Thunder Force and completely disagree with me! 

The Greater Good

Despite the high numbers of mediocre content, it’s not all bad! How often have you scrolled through Netflix in the past and remarked that there’s nothing new to watch? I know for a fact this was a weekly Saturday night occurrence in my household! Netflix’s commitment to releasing original content on a weekly basis means that there should always be something newly available to watch. Plus, just because a film or series isn’t a smash hit doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining! There are numerous examples of so-so films that are still enjoyable to watch, despite their flaws.

Another huge benefit to Netflix’s long-term commitment to new content is the vast increase in the creation of new jobs, with not only actors and actresses having more opportunities, but everyone involved in the world of entertainment ultimately having more potential opportunities available as a result. A prime example of this is recent Netflix original film, Outside the Wire, which stars household name Anthony Mackie (best known for his role as Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and less well-known actor, Damson Idris. Whilst Outside the Wire was enjoyable but not exactly ground-breaking, Damson Idris shone in the film and I’m sure it will open up plenty of future opportunities for him.

It’s also worth mentioning that Netflix are not just releasing new content in the UK and US, but also across the world. As some Netflix content is regionally exclusive, I can’t comment on the ‘quantity vs quality’ debate of other countries, but what I can say is that you can’t fault Netflix’s commitment to providing a plethora of streaming content readily available across the globe.

The Verdict

Home entertainment is absolutely huge and it is only set to grow. Netflix have been pioneers in providing original content for home viewing and I have no doubt in saying that they will continue to provide outstanding original movies and series’ in the near future.

However, there is certainly a strong case that as the number of shows and films produced by Netflix is increasing, the quality of some of this content is taking a bit of a hit. Time will tell if this is a long-term pattern for Netflix, but for now, let’s be thankful that they are at least committed to consistently creating new content.

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