When one considers just how much Netflix dominates the streaming landscape nowadays, it’s almost hard to remember that the company began as a way to get physical DVDs delivered to one’s door. One of the most widely used entertainment services in the U.S. – and worldwide as well – Netflix has become a nearly ubiquitous part of pop culture consumption, whether one pays for access to their own account or simply shares access to the account of a friend, family member, or significant other.
That said, one area where Netflix isn’t exactly ruling the streaming roost anymore is overall amount of available viewing options. Currently, Netflix streams 4,078 individual movies, and streams seasons of some 1225 individual TV shows. Added up, that means that Netflix presently offers 5,303 separate movie and TV titles to subscribers for their immediate perusal. This compares pretty favorably to Hulu, which currently streams right around 3,400 movies, and streams episodes of about 1900 TV shows. Where Netflix’s numbers come up really short is against Amazon Prime, which boasts more movies than both Netflix and Hulu combined, and a TV series line-up comparable to both.
Comparisons to competing services aside, Netflix’s current selection is objectively much, much smaller than it was only a few years ago. As first reported by Exstreamist, Netflix’s present library is roughly half the size of what it was at this point in 2012, when company insiders say the number of total titles available on the service was nearing 11,000. One could obviously argue just how much of that content was really “worth” watching, but that is clearly a massive drop regardless.
Of course, the main reason behind this fall in content levels has been Netflix’s ongoing push into the land of original drama and comedy series, which began with the 2013 debut of political thriller House of Cards. With Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright’s Emmy-winning D.C. drama as the launching point, Netflix has quickly amassed a large catalog of popular original programs, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Fuller House, and more.
Naturally, as Netflix has opted to spend more on creating original content, it has opted to spend less on licensing shows and movies from other content providers. There is no reason to expect this trend to reverse anytime soon either, as Netflix executives have said that the company’s goal is to eventually have its total roster of titles be made up of at least 50% original creations.
In the end though, whether Netflix’s large drop in overall selection really matters to the average individual user will likely be tied to just how highly that person thinks of the service’s original offerings. Are shows like Jessica Jones and Stranger Things worth the loss of thousands of classic films and TV shows from rival studios? The answer to that question is truly in the eye of the beholder.