Volunteer Label writer Connor Forbes runs us through just how Netflix Originals are changing the way film content is consumed and produced.

From Tiger King to Squid Game, Netflix has become a titan of the entertainment industry.

Netflix’s main selling point initially began as its on-demand streaming service that succeeded traditional network television. Though since the streaming service’s start over a decade ago, it has not seen any drastic improvements on the platform in terms of features, only in the content it offers to subscribers.

With new streaming services being introduced, Netflix has had to focus on creating original content. With their first ever original series being taken off of the platform later this month, a testament to the façade of exclusivity that the service offers, has the production and distribution of entertainment evolved for better or worse with the rise of ‘Netflix Originals’?

The greatest benefit that Netflix as a production company has offered is granting more niche creators the funding to capture their visions.

The most remarkable are of these success stories are The Duffer Brothers, creators of Stranger Things, pitched to over fifteen different network companies and rejected by all of them. The show itself was too risky and expensive for standard cable television but the perfect fit for Netflix, who were trying more experimental original shows.

Netflix went on to release twenty-eight original movies and shows including The Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things. This ultimately paid off for the company as the fourth season of the show was released earlier this year and has so far totalled 1.4 billion hours viewed.

Another fine example is the worldwide phenomenon that is Squid Game; the creator Hwang Dong-Hyuk conceived the idea of the show in 2008, though it was not until Netflix greenlit the project in 2019 that Dong-hyuk’s 10-year-old idea would come to fruition. This led to the company’s biggest success from an original series, as Squid Game broke Netflix’s highest watched series of all time with 1.7 billion hours in viewership.

What I find most valuable from Netflix funding more unusual projects internationally, is the introduction of a wider scope of entertainment to western audiences. For example, Squid Game as well as anime series like the newly released Cyberpunk Edgerunners. In my eyes this is a positive aspect of the streaming service, promoting a wider variety of exceptional quality content that otherwise, western audiences may be lacking.

Something Netflix arguably has often failed to achieve is their adaptations of pre-existing materials.

The fantasy series ‘The Witcher’ has seen a good deal of controversy recently with its lead star Henry Cavill leaving the show, being replaced by star Liam Hemsworth. The show suffered criticism from fans of the books as it failed to adapt the source material, instead focussing on original storylines.

In a recent interview with a former writer/producer of the fantasy show he stated that “some of the writers were not (fans) or actively disliked the books.”

This could be interpreted as Netflix failing to hire staff to successfully develop an adaptation and has been argued to be the reason for Cavill’s departure.

In an interview promoting the second season, Cavill had originally confirmed he would be willing to commit to the show’s seven-season plan, “As long as we can keep telling great stories which honour (author Andrzej) Sapkowski’s work.”

His absence from future seasons has left many believing that the show will continue to deviate from the original books, I would say that Netflix has not only failed to create a respectful adaptation but failed to listen to its consumers response to the show.

Another negative of ‘Netflix Originals’ which has been recently highlighted is the distribution of their content. Netflix first ever original series ‘Lilyhammer’ will be leaving the streaming service in November, most likely due to Netflix choosing not to renew the licence for its distribution.

This emphasises the fatal flaw of the on-demand approach that Netflix has caused which is the time limit placed on some shows. The largest example of this was with the Marvel/Netflix shows such as ‘Daredevil’ which moved to Disney+ after also running the end of their licence. Seeing the show, which was a Netflix Original, removed from its own streaming service is a proof of how unpredictable the longevity of content on the platform can be – even if Netflix funds it itself.

It is undoubtable that Netflix has birthed some of the greatest pieces of television and film in recent years and I am personally looking forward to their upcoming original ‘Glass Onion’.

Though Netflix have been successful with many of their originals, it is no wonder that television piracy is at an all-time high when the biggest shows around have spread across a dozen other subscription services.

Edited By: Rachel Cannings (Culture and Entertainment Editor)

Design By: Sarim Mangi


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