Welcome to an end-of-year recap of what we thought were the good bits of the year, the bad bits of the year, and the downright ugly.
This is part of a series of articles we’ll be doing to close out the year, looking at the year that was. We’ll have our predictions and hopes for 2023, more best-of lists, and a deeper dive into some data for the year.
Until then, here’s our review of 2022 with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good: Netflix’s Top 10s
Although introduced in late 2021, the Netflix top 10 site has really come into its own throughout 2022, giving outlets and you, the fans, a better way of knowing exactly how well your favorite show or movie is doing. It lets us more accurately predict renewals and cancelations and actually benchmark shows and movies like never before (like we do in our Netflix top 10 reports every Wednesday).
Netflix has always been criticized for not providing numbers, but this was a big step toward transparency.
It also means everyone else in the industry using vague and meaningless “100 million viewers” or “best opening weekend launch” PR releases look pathetic in comparison.
The Good: Hit rate in Drama Series and Movies
Netflix had some huge hits this year
According to Netflix, the top 4 most popular shows of all time were released in 2022, with Stranger Things 4, Wednesday, Dahmer, and the second season of Bridgerton being huge wins for the service.
Even further down the viewership list, there were some good wins for Netflix. Virgin River continues to pull in solid viewership and newer shows like The Recruit and The Lincoln Lawyer look to be doing well.
Limited series are still doing well for Netflix, with success in the space including Inventing Anna and From Scratch.
Nielsen confirms this fact, too, with not one streamer coming close to Netflix when it comes to creating new hits and either reliant on franchise IP, old catalog or big theatrical releases, with Netflix often locking out all ten spots in some of its weekly charts.
In terms of movies this year, I think it’s been one of the service’s strongest lineups, with 2019 being the most comparable. Across a broad spectrum of genres (and plenty of big-budget swings), they managed to get plenty of movies this year ranking in their all-time most-watched lists in the top 10s, and we’ve also seen the international movie record smashed by Troll.
The Good: Ryan Murphy
Since striking his deal with Netflix, Ryan Murphy really struggled to get much traction outside of Ratched, which technically wasn’t even part of his overall deal with the streamer.
Until 2022, his projects had been much more niche affairs focusing on LGBTQ themes, and while some had critical acclaim and survived for some weeks in the top 10s, the creator wasn’t exactly delivering hits that made him famous over at FX and Fox to land him the deal in the first place.
Moving back into the horror genre with three 2022 entries, Murphy finally took home some wins. DAHMER, The Watcher, and to a lesser extent, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone were all returns to forms for the creator.
The question now becomes, does his Netflix deal get renewed? I’m still leaning towards no, but with the caveat that Netflix will keep buying projects moving forward, such as new seasons for DAHMER and The Watcher.
The Good: Netflix Germany’s Output
In previous years, we’ve seen countries like Spain and South Korea creating big hits for Netflix but this year was truly the year of Netflix Germany with some excellent projects coming out of the regions with many managing to break through the noise.
On the TV side, the country was behind the second season of Barbarians and King of Stonks, with their two biggest hits being Kleo and The Empress both of which have been renewed.
1899 was perhaps the country’s biggest series out this year, however. Using ground-breaking technology and set up as a truly international title, the show from the creators of Dark delivered.
Of course, All Quiet on the Western Front was undoubtedly the biggest title this year to come out of the region.
It blew audiences and critics away and we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed that it performs well next year at various award shows. We’ve already given it our highest accolade in awarding it the best new Netflix movie of 2022.
The Bad: Comedy Series
Unfortunetely, another not-so-great year when it comes to comedy at Netflix either.
Wednesday (arguably more drama than comedy) was the sole shining light for a genre that’s struggled on Netflix recently. As we’ve been reporting, Netflix has yet to renew one of its new comedy series since May 2021. Yep, not a single new Netflix comedy series that debuted in 2022 has been renewed.
Blockbuster ultimately didn’t deliver on its already thin premise leading to Netflix having to put the ex-DVD rental chain in bankruptcy again. Mike Myer’s new series The Pentaverate was swiftly canceled, and lord knows what’s happening with the Melissa McCarthy series God’s Favorite Idiot, which was seemingly cut short even during production.
There were bright spots in the form of the critically acclaimed Murderville and Mo, but given their performance in Netflix’s top 10s, it’s hard to see them returning meaningfully at the time of publishing.
Even on the film side, there’s not much good news to talk about, with even Scott Stuber admitting to Bloomberg that there’s more work to be done but stating, “There haven’t been that many pitches or scripts in the market.”
The Bad: YA Fantasy Shows
Sticking with cancelations, another genre struggling on TV is young-adult fantasy shows, particularly those with LGBTQ themes.
Whether it’s the fact there are too many of them, the classic “lack of marketing” excuse, or not a large enough group being interested, you can’t help but notice Netflix is struggling to get much to stick.
Big cancelations in the space include Warrior Nun (which has led to one of the biggest campaigns to save a show I’ve witnessed since covering Netflix), First Kill, and Fate: The Winx Saga.
The Bad: Netflix Gaming
This may come overly harsh, but Netflix Gaming has now a full year under its belt, and despite having nearly 50 games available, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people playing them or even knowing that they exist.
Again, perhaps we’re being overly harsh with this one as getting into gaming is no easy feat and will ultimately be a marathon and not a sprint, but by now, you’d hope there’d be a least one stand-out title.
They’re putting a lot of investment in this area, buying up studios and establishing new ones to work on the format in the future. Still, there’s much to do beyond just getting established mobile games, stripping their old monetization methods, and putting a new coat of paint on.
The Ugly: Netflix Animation
Starting with reporting from The Wrap, it’s been a rough year for Netflix Animation, with many projects being canceled while in early development or production, lots of staff turnover, and reduced output.
Among the titles canceled that we know about so far include:
- Antiracist Baby
- Bad Crimes
- Boons and Curses
- CentaurWorld (Season 2)
- Dino Daycare
- Kung-Fu Space Punch
- The Twits
- Toil and Trouble
- Wings of Fire
- With Kind Regards from Kindergarten
Looking at the data, animation hasn’t been a huge driver of viewership with a few exceptions, and likely, thanks to re-upping deals with DreamWorks Television and movie output deals from Universal and Sony Pictures Animation, it’s likely they were just oversubscribed in the genre.
The Ugly: The Witcherverse
One of Netflix’s flagship series The Witcher had a very rough year.
Henry Cavill, one of the most loved aspects of the show, is set to leave following the third season, which debuts in 2023, and that’s a huge blow for the franchise.
Add to that The Witcher: Blood Origin has gone over like a plate of cold sick with fans and novices to the franchise, with one of the worst scores of the year so far.
This is supposed to be one of Netflix’s blueprint series for how it develops franchises internally as we move forward with numerous spin-offs and projects going on at any one, and ultimately, it’s not going well.
And that’s just the public stuff and not subject to rumor or the gossip mill. Gossip surrounding the show, including the writers not having much respect for the source material, rifts on set leading to tension between Cavill and the showrunner, plus plenty more accusations and rabid speculation ultimately leaves a horrid taste left in your mouth when it comes to the future of the show and franchise at Netflix.
The Ugly: The Stock Price
Yep, we’re going to talk about the stock price.
You won’t have been able to navigate the net much without hearing about Netflix’s stock price this year which at the time of publishing is still 52% down YTD.
Puck’s Matt Bellani calls the stock price plummeting the “Great Netflix Correction.”
Slowing subscriber numbers is the main issue for Netflix, leading to hell freezing over and an ad tier being introduced rapidly. Does this solve all of Netflix’s problems, or is the problem they’re facing a Hollywood problem? It looks more and more like the latter throughout the year, but Netflix still faces plenty of headwinds in the months and years to come.
Warner Bros. Discover remains at historic lows, and even Bob Iger returning to steady the ship at Disney has hardly excited investors since the initial bounce.
Unlike some of its competitors, however, Netflix doesn’t have to deal with assets in terminal decline while pumping money into loss-leading streaming products with no profitability in sight.
Streaming, while being the future, still has a lot to prove on the economics, with 2023 predicted to be another tough year for everyone in the space.
Before we leave you, here’s a few more points:
- The good: Netflix’s tech team proved they’re still the best in business, bringing an ad tier to market in record time in big regions without a hitch.
- The bad: Does anyone else think Netflix’s Christmas slate this year was a bit rubbish compared to years prior? No Jingle Jangle, The Christmas Chronicles, or Klaus-level greatness this year.
- The bad: We’re almost certainly biased here, but Netflix Tudum remains a headscratcher reliant on auto-generated cast lists for most of its traffic. Speaking to other journalists the site also makes people far wearier of going to Netflix PR, knowing that they could be self-serving news instead or outranking their own reporting in the search rankings.
- The ugly: The number of Netflix Originals removed this year was eye-opening with some big titles like Hemlock Grove departing the service while Lilyhammer was saved. The question now becomes, have the floodgates opened?
What’s your big takeaways for Netflix in 2022? Let us know in the comments down below.