If it feels like it’s gotten harder to find movies to watch on Netflix, that’s because it has. Since 2014, Netflix’s catalog of movie titles has dropped by 40% with over 2,600 films fewer films now available for streaming. And things may only get worse in the coming months as Comcast (NBCUniversal), FOX, WarnerMedia, and Disney all continue to pull content from Netflix to bolster their own streaming services.
In March 2014, the US Netflix library had 6,494 movies you could stream. In March 2016, that number had dropped rapidly to 4,335 films, and as of November 20, 2019, the Netflix movie catalog is down to 3,849 titles.
While the US Netflix library has been steadily shrinking over the past 5 or so years, it still has more movies you can watch than a lot of other countries, although the gap isn’t as wide as it was in previous years. Take a look at the size of the Netflix movie library in some other countries:
- Australia – 3,480
- Canada – 3,844
- Germany – 2,704
- India – 3,515
- Japan – 3,046
- Mexico – 2,839
- New Zealand – 3,436
- UK – 3,710
Growing Competition in the Streaming Space to Blame
For a time, Netflix was the only streaming service that mattered. Then Amazon, Hulu, and others started to enter the space, which increased the competition for streaming rights to movies. And now, things are more competitive than ever before with the recent launch of Disney+ and upcoming services from NBC (Peacock), WarnerMedia (HBO Max), Discovery/BBC, and others. These providers will continue to pull their movies from Netflix and compete with it for any available properties.
To its credit, Netflix saw the writing on the wall early on, and started to shift its focus to developing its own original movies and TV series rather than licensing outside content, spending billions over the last several years in the process.
But the reality is while Netflix keeps pumping out new content every week and announcing tons of upcoming projects, it can’t keep up, so its content slate continues to shrink, with its film library taking the biggest hit (Netflix has actually rebuilt its TV show library over the past few years from 1,197 in 2016 [down from 1,609 in 2014] to 1,784 today).
While all of this is going on, Netflix has also had to increase prices in the US to help fund its soaring content costs, and for the first time in 8 years, the company lost paid subscribers domestically earlier this year.
For its part, Netflix is staying the course and betting that their path to success domestically is to offer an exclusive slate of original content viewers can’t watch anywhere else.