What Cancelling Bloodline Means for Netflix

Netflix has gone ahead and done something that it rarely does – cancel its own original programming. Bloodline season three will be the last run of the show. This is a surprising move from the streaming service, considering the fact that Bloodline was one of its high profile shows, and from the looks of it, it appeared that everything was going well for the show. Netflix ordered the season three production almost immediately after the second season ended. This is usually taken as a positive move for the show. But, it now looks like a last ditch effort from Netflix to keep enough buzz about Bloodline until it closes next season. What could be the reasons for such a drastic decision? Has Netflix categorized Bloodline as a failure? What does this mean for the rest of the original programming currently in Netflix’s offerings? Read on to find more.

Before we jump to conclusions about the fate of Netflix, it should be noted that the cancellation of Bloodline could be an isolated incident. Presently, everything is going great on Netflix’ front. Early this year, it launched worldwide across many countries. Its original programing is loved by the audience, and the streaming service is earning in billions every year.

So, there has to be something inherent to the Bloodline project that got the show cancelled. Usually, when the show gets cancelled, it is because the show is not making more money than what the producers invested in it. As long as the show is making profits, the producers do not care about the costs. That is, unless the cost exceeds the revenue. This happens for two reasons – sudden increase in costs, and loss of viewership. Any discussion about viewership for Netflix’s shows is like talking about what’s inside a black hole. Netflix never reveals its viewership statistics. So, you simply cannot know whether the viewership for Bloodline decreased, increased, or remained the same.

The other factor, the cost of production, deserves a closer look. Netflix pays Sony Pictures Television anywhere between $7 and $8.5 million per episode to produce Bloodline. For a 10 episode season, that amounts to about $70 to $85 million. That is a lot of money. So, it is safe to assume that Netflix does need a lot of viewership to keep Bloodline alive. Making matters worse for Netflix, Florida recently decided to end its tax incentives for entertainment projects that are shot in the state. Bloodline is shot in Islamorada in Florida Keys. This means a sudden jump in the costs of production for the show. Naturally, this disrupts the whole costs-revenue balance that is so carefully planned. Now, when you put that against the fact that the show never garnered as much buzz as Master of None or Stranger Things, it begins to become clearer as to why Bloodline was axed.


Then there is the matter of accolades. Netflix has a strong reputation for its amazing original programming. None of the other streamers enjoy the same reputation at the top of the entertainment pyramid. Netflix’s original shows routinely bag Emmys and Golden Globes. Some of its shows, which are not so prestigious, at least carry with them the mass appeal, thanks to their pop-culture themes. Both types of shows generate enough buzz to keep the audience coming back for more. Bloodline never belonged to either of the categories wholly. It was a bit of both, and couldn’t find a home with either of them. It did not win enough awards of nominations, nor did it have a crazy fan following. It just wasn’t discussed as much as other high performing shows like House of Cards or Stranger Things.

Some people are hoping that the show might get picked up by another streamer, or a cable channel. After all, the show was enjoying a decent buzz on the social media. It can prove to be a crowd-puller for a low key cable channel. Yes, that does happen sometimes in the industry, but highly unlikely in this case. The main reason for this is the Netflix’s approach towards its original programming. When Netflix orders a contract to a studio to produce a show, it has a clause that prevents the studio from selling reruns of the show. To make up for this loss in revenue for the studio, Netflix not only covers the cost of production of the show, but also offers a premium of 30-60% on the costs to the studios. This way, the studios get an assured profit from the production, and Netflix keeps all its shows in house. There is no reason for Netflix to make an exception in case of Bloodline, which means that the show will remain buried after its third season.

Now, before you chalk up Bloodline as one of Netflix’s failures, consider a few more things. Bloodline isn’t the first show that Netflix has cancelled. Lilyhammer and Hemlock Grove were dropped by Netflix before. Yet, they were nowhere in the same league as Bloodline. Even then, the absence of Bloodline will not make a serious dent in Netflix’s offerings.

Moreover, Netflix did not end Bloodline abruptly. This is important because it means that Netflix didn’t simply chalk it up as a failure in its books. In fact, Netflix gave its audience enough time to cope with the termination of the show. In addition to this, the show is not being dropped mid-story, leaving the audience with a cliffhanger, or in suspense. Instead, Netflix will produce another season of the show, and will promptly end it with a fitting climax, without leaving any room for resurrections. This is good because Netflix can now use the money it freed up by killing Bloodline to produce a better show for its audience. If you don’t have a cable television plan, then streaming shows like Bloodline on Netflix is your best bet for entertainment.


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