When Netflix extended its relationship with Warner Media’s sitcom Friends late last year, ponying up $100 million for the rights to air the series on the streaming giant for 2019, it highlighted a potential major crisis for Netflix. Despite churning out hundreds of original series, movies, reality shows, and comedy specials over the years, many of the streaming network’s most popular programs are still those that it licenses from other studios and networks, like The Office, Friends, Parks and Recreation and Grey’s Anatomy. However, as other studios like Apple, Disney, and Warner prepare to launch their own streaming networks, there’s a real danger that Netflix will lose out on some of their most popular programming as studios pull their own content from the service to stream exclusively on their own networks in an effort to boost their own subscriber base.
Disney, for instance, has already announced that it will pull its programming off of Netflix and stream it on its own service, due out this year. In anticipation of that, Netlix has cancelled a number of its popular Marvel series. In fact, while Netflix was reluctant to cancel original programming in the first few years after House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, the streaming service has been far more eager to do so of late with shows that are produced outside of the Netflix ecosystem, like the popular mockumentary series American Vandal, which was produced by CBS TV Studios. That series, however, could attract new suitors, including its own in-house streaming network, CBS All Access.
Ultimately, the content crisis that Netflix may face will only arise if their original programming cannot fill the holes left by the absence of shows like Friends and The Office, should those studios decide to pull them. With the exception of Stranger Things and a few other programs, Netflix hasn’t had a lot of homegrown hits on the scale of Friends in recent years. If the Netflix licensed catalogue gets picked apart by other networks and studios, theoretically viewers could drop Netflix in favor of other streaming services.