Why Did Netflix Cancel ‘1899’?An in-depth look at the aspects that the streaming platform may have taken into account for this decision.
As witnesses of the efforts made by the audiovisual entertainment industry to adapt and evolve in the current #streamingwars, BB Media set out to analyze the case of ‘1899’, which caught the attention of millions of followers and experts when it was canceled less than two months after its release. What were the reasons for discontinuing a show that had such a good performance and public acceptance? Information and metrics are presented below to shed light on the possible reasons.
Based on actual audience data from SoDA Latam by BB Media & Digital, a search began to understand the possible arguments that Netflix could have considered in making its decision about ‘1899’, and also doing a comparison with ‘Dark’, the successful German series by the same showrunners, Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, with similar genre and themes, as well as other popular examples such as ‘Wednesday’ or ‘Manifest’.
First, a context was defined based on the main metrics that ‘1899’ marked in the 15 Latin American and European countries that were analyzed: it remained in the Top 10 for 5 weeks, achieved a global reach of 43.9 million accounts, with 281 million views and +13 billion minutes watched. All these figures are very promising for having been achieved in just over a quarter, similar to those achieved by the first season of ‘Dark’ over 5 years, although far from those achieved by ‘Wednesday’ in the same period (15 weeks in the Top 10, 72 million reach, 957 million views, +41 billion minutes watched). At first glance, this performance may not seem like sufficient reason for such an early cancellation. What else could be behind it?
As a next step, when analyzing the interests of the audience, it was found that 72% of those who watched ‘1899’ had also watched ‘Dark’, confirming the audience’s affinity with titles from the same showrunners. However, it is possible that Netflix was hoping that the new title would attract a new audience in a greater proportion, which may have added to the decision to cancel. But is this reason enough?
Looking further, a focus was made on analyzing the Completion Rate of ‘1899’. This metric evaluates what percentage of accounts that watched the first episode continued watching the following episodes until the last. It can be highlighted that ‘1899’ was the series with the lowest figures of all those analyzed. As a pattern, it is possible to observe that the first seasons of ‘Dark’, ‘Manifest’ and ‘Wednesday’ concluded with a rate above 50%, while ‘1899’ remained below. As an indicator of user engagement and retention, it is likely that Netflix found a determining point here.
On the other hand, during the quarter of its launch (2022Q4), ‘1899’ ranked 10th in the Top of Mind of consumers in Latin America, with a 10% share compared to the 1st place occupied by ‘Wednesday’, while ‘Dark’ ranked 26th. In comparison, the Top of Mind for the launch quarters of each season of ‘Dark’ is as follows: 7th place in 2017Q4 (S1), with a score of 30% of the first place, ‘The Walking Dead’; 6th place in 2019Q4 (S2), with a score of 50% of the first place, ‘Stranger Things’; and 1st place in 2020Q2, its last season, followed by ‘La Casa de Papel’ and ‘Élite’. This made it possible to identify a trend in the level of recall for ‘Dark’ over time. Could the same pattern have been expected for ‘1899’ with subsequent seasons?
To further understand the performance of ‘1899’, an analysis of the Content Popularity Rate was proposed. During March and April 2023, the most striking result is that ‘1899’ marked the lowest rate among the contents analyzed in most countries.
Also, focusing on the analysis of popularity from the context of illegal platforms, it was noted that ‘1899’, ‘Wednesday’, ‘Dark’, and ‘Manifest’ are present in +50 of the 215 audited platforms.
Finally, the weight that the budget of ‘1899’ may have had in its performance and reach achieved was considered as a determining part of the analysis. The first season of ‘1899’ is estimated to have cost around 50 million euros, making it the most expensive German series in history. For reference, the first season of ‘Dark’ cost around 18 million euros. While these figures are estimates, there is a clear difference in cost that Netflix did not see reflected in the performance of ‘1899’ and ultimately failed to achieve the expected objectives.
Some of these arguments, or all to some extent, may have played an important role in Netflix’s final decision. It is clear that this decision was based on real data, performance metrics, reach, and popularity, fundamental tools that every company requires today to navigate the current context of this industry.
WRITTEN BY: Santiago Zapata (Analysis Team Leader at BB Media)
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SoDA LATAM by BB Media & Digital i, 2018 to 2022Q4
BB Media – New Media Essentials, 2017Q4, 2019Q4, 2020Q2, 2022Q4
BB Media – Multiscreens+ | Hits, March and April 2023
BB Media – Online Audits, 2022Q4