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Netflix lost more than 1100 streaming titles Wednesday, but does it matter?

Ian Paul, Brad Chacos | May 2, 2013
The Internet is abuzz with the news that Netflix's streaming titles are seeing some dramatic changes in May, with the online service set to lose a whopping 1800 titles during the month.

"Netflix is a dynamic service, we constantly update the TV shows and movies that are available to our members," Netflix spokesman Joris Evers wrote in an email to TechHive.  "We will add more than 500 titles May 1, but we also have titles expiring. This ebb and flow happens all the time."

Netflix's data-driven approach to content curation is evident in today's purge. While the sheer volume of titles being scrubbed in May gives one pause, going through the list reveals few killers and a lot of fillers.

That falls in line with the company's intentions: Relying on its deep-user data-treasure troves, Netflix has said it doesn't want to pay for shows nobody watches, and instead wants to become "an expert programmer, offering a mix that delights our members, rather than trying to be a broad distributor."

That said, "Streamageddon" also highlights why companies such as Netflix want to offer their own original programming instead of being at the mercy of major movie and television studios for content.

Netflix has recently rolled out Hemlock Grove, a supernatural horror show from Hostel's Eli Roth, as well as the acclaimed House of Cards, a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey in the lead role. Other original series, including Arrested Development Season 4Orange is the New Black, and Turbo:F.A.S.T., an animated series by DreamWorks, are slated to debut over the coming months.

User data plays a role in Netflix's original content, too. The New York Times recently detailed how Netflix pores through viewing data to determine which original shows get a green light. For example, the service knew that subscribers loved Kevin Spacey, director David Fincher, and the British version of House of Cards  before producing the U.S. adaptation.

Rather than filling our queues with crap, Netflix is actively trying to give us what the data says we want. The gamble seems to be paying off: the number of U.S. streaming Netflix subscribers recently topped HBO's user base.

Does Streamageddon hurt? It all depends on how you look at things. But if nothing else, it drives home the point that you shouldn't rely on streaming subscription services for content you want to be permanently available.

 

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