As Glow and Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance join the long and growing list of Netflix original series that receive praise from audiences everywhere only to be abruptly cancelled months later, viewers are beginning to ask the question, is Netflix killing off their series too soon?
Sense8, The OA, Santa Clarita Diet, and One Day At A Time are all examples of shows that have been cancelled after receiving critical acclaim everywhere, as well as massive social media followings. They’ve all released around two to three seasons before Netflix announced they’re getting the boot, and more times than not the series ends on a cliffhanger due to the abruptness of the cancellations.
Now, Glow and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, have joined that list. The latter show is a prequel to the 1983 Jim Hensen movie which became famous for its intricate puppet design and animatronic use. Netflix premiered the prequel series in August of 2019, garnering near universal acclaim from critics and a slew of award nominations. It also received a 2020 Emmy for outstanding children’s program. Even with all of these positive accolades and reviews, Netflix still cancelled the series before it was able to develop further.
Glow on the other hand is a three-time Emmy winner, and is a show that follows the culture of female wrestling in the 1980’s. The show had three seasons and was about to start filming its fourth and final season when the pandemic hit. Now, thanks to the uncertainty regarding all things Covid-19, Netflix decided to just scrap the final season in its entirety, leaving many fans disappointed that their favorite show from the past three years won’t be receiving a proper ending.
The way that Netflix decides what shows get renewed every year is still a mystery to the public. The streaming service has claimed that the cancellations have to do with social media presence as well as viewership, however, they never release their actual rating figures, leaving the public in the dark as to why these shows actually get cancelled.
Netflix is notoriously known for watching the way their viewers interact with their programming. They look at analytics regarding what you watch, when you watch it, what time of year you’re watching it, what device you’re watching on, how many episodes you watch in a row, when you pause it, etc. The data gets so specific so the company has a better understanding of its customers.
Netflix apparently also looks at viewership mainly seven to 28 days after a series launches. They break their viewers into three categories: “starters, who watch the first episode; completers, who finish a show in its launch window; and watchers, a measure of all subscribers who watch a show. The more who finish a season within the first 28 days, the higher Netflix regards the show, it seems.”
This algorithm, however, is putting Netflix in the hot seat more and more, as fans are growing tired of paying more monthly for a service that keeps cancelling the shows audiences grow a deep connection too. Glow being one of the biggest and most recent examples of this, even the cast and crew working for the show went online to express their extreme disappointment in Netflix’s decision, showing that the individuals involved in the making of these shows are left in the dark just as much as the rest of the world when it comes to how/why certain shows don’t get renewed.
By exclusively looking at the viewership of a show within its first month of launching, Netflix is excluding an entire audience of individuals who have yet to discover the show, get Netflix, catch up with said show, etc. There’s a complete market of viewers that they’re choosing to ignore and while there’s been signs from management that this style of renewing would shift, the Covid-19 pandemic has flipped the entire entertainment industry on its head in general, so who’s to say.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.