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EXCLUSIVE: All Marvel Netflix Shows Have Been Losing Viewers For Years

Defenders on the subway

Netflix Has Got Too Big For Marvel To Break Through

What is driving the decline of Marvel Netflix? Part of the problem, strangely enough, is likely the streaming giant's increasing focus on original content. In 2017, Netflix spent $6 billion on original content; for 2018, it planned to spend $8 billion. The streaming service also intended to release 80 original films this year, and a staggering 700 TV shows. No less than 60 different Netflix Originals premiered in October, ranging from Creeped Out to The Haunting of Hill House, from Making A Murderer: Part 2 to The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. When Daredevil season 3 released on October 19, it was competing against 10 other Netflix Original series and three Netflix movies. Netflix is simply getting too big for Marvel to break through.

That's especially the case if, as suggested earlier, the Marvel Netflix shows are increasingly being watched only by Marvel fans. The natural consequence of that would be that Netflix's algorithms would prioritize other content, original series and films that appeal to the different taste communities. Netflix don't tend to invest heavily on advertising for their shows, simply trusting to the algorithm to offer viewers something they're interested in. That may be beginning to damage the Marvel Netflix productions.

The Marvel Netflix Series Are Hit-And-Miss

Meanwhile, it's also important to note that the quality of the Marvel Netflix shows has varied wildly. Although Daredevil has retained roughly the same quality level, with each season receiving critical and popular acclaim, the same hasn't been true of the other series. The lowest point was undoubtedly Iron Fist season 1, which was slated by viewers and critics alike. Marvel changed showrunner, and worked hard to redeem the character for a much-improved second season, but it seems it was too late.

A related issue, one that perhaps encourages audiences to interact with the Marvel shows as a single brand rather than as individual series, is the fact that they all share the same problems. Even the first season of Daredevil was criticized for its poor pacing, but the same complaints are still being made three years later. Every series needs to find its own balance, shaped by the kind of story it wants to tell, the genre it operates in, and the character dynamics in play. Without exception, the Marvel series have been criticized for failing to get the pacing right. There were finally signs of improvement with Iron Fist season 2 and Daredevil season 3, but again it seems to have been too late. After all, realistically it shouldn't take Marvel between 10 and 12 seasons to adjust their formula in response to common complaints.

Related: Daredevil Season 3's Ending Explained

There's Too Much Marvel Netflix, So People Give Up

Iron Fist and Daredevil

There's one final variable; the fact that Marvel is producing so much content on the streaming service. When the partnership between Marvel and Netflix began in 2015, they released only two shows a year. Last year, there were three; this year, there have been four. There hasn't even been much of a gap, either; Iron Fist season 2 came out on September 7, Daredevil season 3 on October 19.

Back in 2015, when a Marvel series dropped on Netflix it was an event. Now, it's par for the course. This immediately means that the problems and issues with the various Marvel shows will become increasingly evident to audiences, and Marvel will be unable to correct. And, as in any medium, you can reach a saturation point when audiences have too much of the same thing. With four Marvel Netflix series releasing in 2018, how do viewers choose which one to prioritize? All four shows felt as though they mattered, as though they were equally important to their characters' worlds.

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While the data provided by Jumpshot has its limitations, it's tremendously valuable in letting us get a glimpse of what's going on behind the curtain. Netflix's recent decisions - the cancellation of first Iron Fist, and then Luke Cage - suddenly make a lot more sense.

But what will the future hold for the Marvel Netflix world? The Punisher season 2 has already wrapped up production, and Jessica Jones season 2 is still filming, so those will presumably drop in 2019. The first season of The Punisher was an outlier from the trend, performing surprisingly well, and Netflix will be watching the season 2 viewing figures carefully. Meanwhile, the fact that Daredevil season 3 is another outlier indicates the Man Without Fear may well still hold a powerful appeal.

More: What To Expect In Daredevil Season 4

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