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It Feels Like Streamers Are Canceling Shows Left And Right, And A New Study Revealed Which Platforms Have Axed The Most Content

 From left to right: Jordan Alexander in Gossip Girl, Neil Patrick Harris in Uncoupled and Elizabeth Lee in Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.
From left to right: Jordan Alexander in Gossip Girl, Neil Patrick Harris in Uncoupled and Elizabeth Lee in Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.

Every year, it feels like streamers and networks cancel shows left and right, however, it’s clear that some give more series the axe than others. Well, now we know which platforms have the highest cancellation rates based on a new study.

This study looked into which streamers had the highest rate of cancellation between 2020 and 2023. Over the last three years, and especially on the 2023 TV schedule, we’ve seen lots of series get bad news, and now we know which platforms have the highest percentage of dolling said news out. According to Variety, which reported the study done by Variety Intelligence Platform and Luminate, Max (formally known as HBO Max) has the highest cancellation rate.

The study compared streaming data to linear TV cancellation rates over the last three years. Broadcast’s rate is at 26.6% and Max’s sits at 26.9%. Also included in this study were all the other major streamers – Paramount+, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock, Prime Video and Apple TV+. The rest of the cancellation rates are:

Streaming:

  • Max: 26.9%

  • Disney+: 21.1%

  • Paramount+: 16.9%

  • Hulu: 15.2%

  • Netflix: 10.2%

  • Peacock: 10.0%

  • Prime Video: 9.0%

  • Apple TV+: 4.9%

Linear TV

  • Broadcast: 26.6%

  • Cable: 7.2%

The largest number in all this data is Max’s cancellation rate, however, as the article pointed out, it’s not surprising. Since the Warner Bros. - Discovery merger in 2022, there’s been a noticeable purge of content on the platform. Along with canceling shows like Gossip Girl, the streamer has also axed series while they were finishing production or were completely finished, like Season 2 of Minx, which was canceled and then saved by Starz. At the end of 2022, Max also completely pulled shows from its platform too, including massively popular series like Westworld. 

This purge of content has been making headlines for months, which is why it's not all that surprising that Max has the highest cancellation rate.

The second highest was Disney+ at 21.1%. Over the last year, there's been a bloodbath as the streamer pulled the plug on tons of shows and moved others off the platform in an effort to cut costs. For example, in February, it dropped both Big Shot and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers then it canceled Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. a few months later.

Alba Baptista on Warrior Nun
Alba Baptista on Warrior Nun

Meanwhile, Netflix’s cancellation rate might be lower than some expected as it sits at 10.2%, right above Peacock’s 10%. However, it’s important to note the difference in the quantity of content across streamers. This company's percentage is lower because it releases a lot more original content than platforms like Peacock. What this means is if Netflix canceled ten out of 100 shows, and Peacock canceled two out of ten, the NBC Universal streamer would have a higher cancellation rate, even though Netflix axed more content in total. So, while the legacy streamer gets a lot of attention for canceling its content, it also produces more than the other streamers.

While its percentage is surprisingly low, Netflix has still canceled lots of series this year. Shows like Standing Up, The Midnight Club and Lockwood & Co., among many others, were cut after one season. The legacy streamer has also caught a lot of attention for axing shows with very passionate and large fanbases, like Warrior Nun, which was actually saved from cancellation after a huge fan campaign. Other series, like Uncoupled, were canceled by the streamer, however, they have found new homes, in the case of Neil Patrick Harris’ show, it moved to ShowTime.

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Ali Wong in Human Resources.
Ali Wong in Human Resources.

What Netflix Has Canceled And Renewed

The study also noted that Netflix was the only one of the streamer services studied that improved its cancellation rate on an annual basis between 2020 and 2023.

The streamer with the lowest cancellation rate was Apple TV+, and it was way below its competition at 4.6%. However, it also produces less than its competitors. While the number is small, the company hasn’t shied away from saying goodbye to some shows, as it announced the cancellations of High Desert, Suspicion, Monster Factory and City on Fire this summer.

Also, included in this study were the overall cancellation rates, and according to those percentages, streaming (12.2%) has a 1.4% higher cancellation rate compared to overall linear TV (10.8%). With the percentages, the number of shows canceled was also revealed. Across the three years, streaming platforms canceled 221 series while linear TV said goodbye to 193 shows.

Overall, this data makes a lot of sense, and it gives us a better picture of the streaming landscape especially when it comes to cancellations. As more news comes out about your favorite shows and whether they will be moving forward or not on their respective platforms, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.