It almost seemed like Reed Hastings sealed Sense8‘s fate when he mentioned that Netflix doesn’t cancel enough of its original shows. The streaming platform’s CEO made some waves after saying that their “hit ratio” was too high and they needed to be more choosy with what made it on the service. It wasn’t long after that Sense8 was sent off to pasture along with the few others shows that Netflix has canceled, including Bloodline and The Get Down.
The decision worried some fans of Netflix and caused a bit of an outcry from viewers, those who enjoyed Sense8 especially. But it’s a decision that’s for the best according to some of the platforms competitors and according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos. He defended the cancellations and laid out their reasoning while speaking with Jerry Seinfeld at the PGA’s Produced By conference on Saturday:
“Relative to what you spent, are people watching it? That is pretty traditional,” Sarandos said in a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld, whose “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is moving to Netflix for its next season. “When I say that, a big expensive show for a huge audience is great. A big, expensive show for a tiny audience is hard even in our model to make that work very long.”
According to Variety, The Get Down cost roughly $12 million per episode to produce and Sense8 stood at $9 million. Costs are also what drove Bloodline to an end, with the series running into issues with the filming locations in the Florida Keys. Sarandos also says there’s another reason why this talk of cancellations has popped up at Netflix. The CCO attempts to clear up Hastings earlier comments and explain the Silicon Valley point of view it is coming from:
“It’s one of those things that you know you’re pushing the envelope if every once in a while you fall. And you go back and start over again. If you have hit after hit after hit, you question yourself — are you trying hard enough? Are you too conventional?”
As Hastings said, he wants to push creators to take risks and create content that pushes the boundaries. If you couple that with Sarandos explanation, it makes the whole push a little clearer.
One group that is enjoying this news seems to be the heads of your favorite television networks. According to Vulture, the heads of programming at FX, Hulu, NBC, and others were at ATX Festival and noted that Netflix’s decision brings them back into the “ecosystem” inhabited by these other networks and means they’ve reached the same level the rest are at in terms of “bottom lines” and putting the best programming they can forward.
This makes sense, especially when the network was crafting hit after hit and promising to bring more series to users at a stunning rate. If you had to compete and create your own, you’d be overwhelmed by the Netflix model.
Where it isn’t pleasing is for the fans. The reaction to the Sense8 cancellation isn’t a surprise, but Netflix’s reaction to it is a little odd. The company posted an apology of sorts on the Sense8 Facebook to close the week, acknowledging the petitions and chatter asking for the show to return but confirming that it isn’t possible:
The reason we’ve taken so long to get back to you is because we’ve thought long and hard here at Netflix to try to make it work but unfortunately we can’t.
It’s definitely one of those situations where it’d be better if Netflix said nothing at all. A cancellation says enough about how a network or streamer feels about the future of a series. Doing this just kinda pours salt in those wounds — the replies on the post prove that.