Netflix has ended half-hour reality-based comedy "Girlboss" after just one 13-episode season, the latest sign that the streaming service is actively culling its massive herd of programming.
The company did not offer any statement about its decision, but it comes on the heels of the axing of The Get Down and Sense8. Cutting bait on shows fits with CEO Reed Hastings' recent statement in a CNBC interview that the streaming service "should have a higher cancel rate" as it continues taking the kinds of risks that its traditional rivals can't or won't.
Content chief Ted Sarandos also recently acknowledged the company's closer scrutiny of viewership data and tighter leash on shows compared with a couple of years ago. While Netflix is always secretive about ratings, declining to tell even show creators how many people are watching, internally it seems to be considering those numbers more actively.
“Relative to what you spent, are people watching it?,” Sarandos said at the Producers Guild's Produced By conference earlier this spring. “When I say that, a big expensive show for a huge audience is great. A big, expensive show for a tiny audience is hard even in our model to make that work very long.”
"Girlboss," despite a pedigree of being backed by Charlize Theron's production company and executive produced by one of the writers of the popular "Pitch Perfect" movie franchise, faced the additional handicap of critical indifference. Ratings aggregator Rotten Tomatoes put its "fresh" rating at a meager 32%. The show is based on the story of Sophia Amoruso, who scraped together initial seed money and then launched Nasty Gal, a fashion line that racked up $100 million in sales by 2012. By the time of the show's release, many critics noted, Nasty Gal had declined markedly and even declared bankruptcy, giving the show a dated feel.
As Netflix trims some of its laggard offerings, it also doesn't face the punishing economics of ad-supported TV networks, who have finite shelf space and must program according to linear timeslots in a way that appeals to blue-chip advertisers. Netflix, on the other hand, is dwarfing all rivals with an annual $6 billion investment in content across a wide range of categories, from stand-up comedy to documentary to drama series feature film.