Netflix’s programming strategy in recent years has been clear. The streamer has been moving towards self-sufficiency by increasingly filling its catalogue with newly released and original content, while removing many older titles. This is set to continue as the newly-launched studio-led services—Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock—reclaim popular library titles such as Friends and The Office. However, COVID-19’s impact on the production industry has caused Netflix to deviate slightly from its strategy in 2020.
Total catalogue size has continued to grow in 2020, and the volume of titles premiering on the service’s UK catalogue from April to October 2020 was larger than the same period the previous year. However, as Netflix licenced older content to make up for gaps in its slate due to production delays, the average first release year of these titles went down to 2014.6 compared to 2019’s figure of 2015.4, This was mainly driven by an increase in content released more than a decade ago. Indeed, in June 2020 Netflix had its highest proportion of premiered titles that were over 10 years old (30%), among all months analysed in a five-year period.
In addition, while the proportion of premiered titles made up of Netflix Originals and Exclusives has been growing rapidly over the past few years, 2020 levels remain the same as 2019, at a third of all premiered titles. With new productions delayed, Netflix instead added more acquired titles as it sought to retain subscriber interest during lockdown.