The Number of Movies on Netflix Is Dropping Fast

Mar 25, 2016

We’re now many years removed from the halcyon days of Netflix’s robust movie streaming library. Even still, the company's digital catalog continues to shrink.

According to a report by AllFlicks, Netflix had 6,494 movies and 1,609 TV shows in its U.S. catalog in January 2014. As of this week, it has 4,335 movies and 1,197 shows. That’s a 33% dip in films and a 26% drop in television shows in a bit more than two years.

Netflix didn't respond to TIME's request for comment.

Over the last couple of years Netflix has transformed itself from a repository for Hollywood TV and movies into a major distributor of original programming all its own. As Netflix has beefed up its original offerings, it’s let more non-exclusive content disappear from the service. The company failed to renew its deal with the movie channel Epix last fall, which meant blockbusters like The Wolf of Wall Street and World War Z were no longer available. At the same time, competitors like Hulu and Amazon have been aggressively snapping up the rights to programming, which drives up licensing costs.

Netflix seems comfortable with having a shrinking library. In 2015 Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the company was no longer interested in licensing shows that weren’t exclusive to the platform. Instead, the company has 600 hours of original programming slated to release this year, and it’s betting that its increasingly sophisticated recommendation algorithms will be able to guide users to content they enjoy, even if there’s less to choose from overall.

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So far the plan is working. In the time period of the AllFlicks study, Netflix added nearly 12 million subscribers in the U.S. alone.

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