Why do my favorite Netflix shows get cancelled?
Here's why. Plus: what's going on at comiXology and my next con appearance!
Hey there -
Last Friday, I went on Explain Yourself with host Will Allred to talk comics with fellow creators Ryan Kroboth (Sunmaker) and John Edingfield II (Rancidville).
There was a little bit of discussion about the origins and the influences of our books, and then it turned into an interesting (I think? It was late) discussion about the state of the direct market and the opportunities for creators on Kickstarter. If you're interested in checking out the replay, you can watch here:
(And it was great to see a few familiar names in the live chat. Shoutout to Shawnee and Geoff!)
Why Do My Favorite Netflix Shows Keep Getting Cancelled?
A key point we discussed was how all across the entertainment industry—from film to TV to, yes, comics—everyone thought the future would be digital.
Movie studios and TV networks went all in on streaming, while in comics, publishers looked to comiXology to stave off the death of the direct market.
But here’s the horrible truth people are just figuring out:
There’s no money in digital.
According to this article from Bloomberg (and many more like it), entertainment companies are losing BILLIONS on streaming.
Why is that?
Take a look, for example, at KNIVES OUT. When this movie came out, it was the rare thing in Hollywood in those days: a hit with legs.
Most movies come out and live or die by their opening weekend. Maybe they’ll make some money in the next few weeks, but it’s the opening weekend that determines a picture’s fate.
And so they take their big box office (or not) and disappear from theaters in a matter of weeks.
But KNIVES OUT was released in, what, November? And it was still playing in theaters in my little corner of Arkansas as late as my birthday the next year (late January).
The ONLY thing that stopped its momentum was Covid-19.
It ultimately made $312 million dollars.
Compare that with GLASS ONION, the (delightful, I might add) sequel that was released on Netflix over the holidays.
After a short run in theaters that allowed it to qualify for the Oscars, GLASS ONION went straight to streaming, leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table.
Because on Netflix, it made…
Well, who knows how many dollars. Because Netflix didn't charge for it. You were allowed to stream it as part of your regular subscription.
(How many new people signed up just to watch GLASS ONION? We don't know. Because that’s not how Netflix tracks a film or TV show’s success. They track viewing hours, which they’ve only recently reluctantly started to share with the public. But you can bet plenty of people signed up—or got a free trial—and then cancelled after watching. It’s called churn, and it’s a big problem for the streamers.)
The irony, of course, is that a movie about “disruptors”—in which one character says that even people who like disruption don’t want you to destroy the system—is streaming on a platform that literally destroyed the system.
Since Netflix debuted their streaming service, everyone in Hollywood has been chasing it. But as the Bloomberg article points out, the model isn’t profitable.
Oh, sure, Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig and the rest of the cast made out big. And good for them. But you know who won't make money on GLASS ONION?
Which is why your favorite shows keep getting cancelled.
Because Netflix—like any other streamer—lives or dies by subscriptions. And they have to keep spending money to add the latest cool new thing to spike subscriptions. And if they feel like a show isn’t bringing in subs relative to its cost, it’s time to kill it and try something new.
Which costs a lot of money.
And doesn’t make a lot of money.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
What Does This Have to Do With ComiXology?
Comics, like film and tv shows, are expensive to produce.
Maybe not as expensive, but trust me, they’re not cheap to do well.
And selling them for $1.99—or even $3.99—when you have to split sales 50-50 with Amazon is not going to earn your money back.
And yet, it seemed like a great alternative when comic shops all across the nation started shuttering for good.
But the reality is, Amazon just laid off all of Comixology, not something a company does with a profitable division.
As usual, Comics Beat has a great breakdown that explains everything, but the TLDR is: digital sales are not good.
(Yes, Amazon deserves the blame for some of this. But as the article points out, at the time of the sale, Comixology was having trouble finding investors. Again… not something that happens to a profitable company.)
Which is why I’m super happy to be on Kickstarter, one of the few aspects of the comics industry that seems to be growing.
Kickstarter is Hiring!
Outgoing Kickstarter Comics Lead Oriana Leckert writes:
So, hey, if you think that’s you, click the image above to apply!
Speaking of Kickstarter
The campaigns for FRIENDS OF FRIED Steve Bryant and Rob Multari are both ending in 48 hours, so here’s a friendly reminder that if you back either campaign plus BLAZING BLADE OF FRANKENSTEIN, you get a kickass print.
(Want two prints? Back ‘em both!)
EVIE AND THE HELSINGS by Steve Bryant:
CLICK HERE to check out EVIE AND THE HELSINGS!
NIGHT WOLF by Rob Multari:
Click here to visit the Night Wolf Voodoo Doll 12" Plushie & 6 New Connecting Covers Kickstarter Page!
And of course, to be eligible for the prints, you also have to back…
BLAZING BLADE OF FRANKENSTEIN:
In Other News…
And Last But Not Least… Con Nooga!
I’ll be appearing at Con Nooga in Chattanooga, TN from February 17-19th.
I’ll have plenty of books in tow (as well as DREAMQUEST artist Mick Beyers), so if you’re in the area, drop on by! NIGHT WOLF’S Rob Multari will also be there.
Really looking forward to hanging with these gents and meeting everyone who comes out.
But mostly I’m looking forward to filling multiple growlers with the Coconut Porter from Cherry Street Brewing Company, a five minute drive from the convention hall.
(If you can’t find me at one place, I’ll be at the other…)
See you there?
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Love your newsletter, thanks for writing it. While I agree with the premise of your comment on ComiXology and digital sales, I don't agree to the statement that digital sales are not good. I believe digital sales are catching up with Physical very fast. This is due to several reasons - global supply chain issues, slowing down of economy ( so going for a more affordable option ). You can also find audiences where physical copies are very hard tor reach. For most the Kickstarter campaigns I back, it is cost prohibitive for me to pay for Shipping to Australia. e.g. For a 15$ book, the shipping would cost me 23$. So, then the only option I'm left with is get a digital copy.
Kickstarter while good, is quite clunky and intensive. You have to agree, that it's not a platform for everyone. I meet so many lovely creators whose work is amazing, but they find Kickstarter both overwhelming and not fit for purpose. It's been booming obviously because it's the most viable option and crowdfunding in general is the best way to reach a mass audience.
I have spent several evenings thinking about his problem and now come up with a solution for this. I think answer lies somewhere in between a traditional marketplace like ComiXology and Kickstarter, something that focuses on distribution and enabling creators without breaking their commissions ( like 50-50 split with Amazon ). I would love for you to come to my YouTube channel and talk about it. https://youtube.com/@comix_app :)