Netflix Movie Library Shrunk by 35% Since 2015 But Is Growing Again

by Published on EST

netflix movies library 2022

Netflix Logo – Picture: Netflix

It’s been a while since we dug into Netflix’s library and today we’re going to be diving deep into Netflix’s movie lineup. Is Netflix’s movie lineup as strong as years prior? How many of the movies available on Netflix are now Originals? Has quality in the movie library declined and where does Netflix still get its licensed movies from? Let’s find out. 

Please note: this piece only applies to Netflix in the United States. Other libraries and availability are often drastically different. 


Netflix’s US Movie Library Has Shrunk By Over 35% Since 2015 But Is Growing Again

Despite huge investment in Netflix Original movies, the movie library as a whole has still shrunk according to numbers seen by What’s on Netflix.

Back in May 2015, the movies library in the US was at 4,751 movies strong. Compare that to May 2022 and there are only 3,016 movies on the service.

If we just look at licensed content (excluding Netflix Originals) the movie library has shrunk even more dramatically. In May 2015, there was only a single Netflix Original movie (Beasts of No Nation wouldn’t release until October that year kickstarting Netflix’s foray fully into new movies).

If we exclude Netflix Originals, the licensed movie library on Netflix is now 55% smaller than it was seven years ago.

Beasts of No Nation kicked off Netflix’s movie campaign

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that licensed movies are slowly moving away from Netflix We’ll dig into this more in a second but numerous reports state that Netflix has lost thousands of titles both movies and TV shows over the past decade. ReelGood published a report in 2020 that put the number at more than 5,000 titles lost. In 2011, Netflix reportedly had 11,000 titles overall. Fast forward to today, Netflix’s US library is at around 6,000 titles.

With that said, Netflix has begun growing its movie library again in recent years. We’ve got movie library snapshots on May 5th for every year since 2015 and it indicates that 2017 was the worst year for the movie library bottoming out at 2686 movies. As Netflix invests in Originals and gets new deals in place including with international distributors, that number has grown. It’s also indicative of a more stable library whereas before Netflix was constantly at risk of losing large numbers of movies. Case in point, Netflix lost the Epix movie library in 2015.

  • 2015 – 4752 movies
  • 2016 – 3275 movies
  • 2017 – 2686 movies
  • 2018 –  2768 movies
  • 2019 – 3048 movies
  • 2020 – 2980 movies
  • 2021 – 2937 movies
  • 2022 – 3015 movies
netflix movie library growing again

Netflix US movie library over time


Netflix Originals Make Up A Bigger Part of the Netflix Movie Library Than Ever

It’s no surprise given the licensed movies falling away from Netflix that Netflix Originals now make up a much larger portion of the Netflix library.

As we’ve previously covered Netflix’s library (both movies and TV shows) now consists of over 40% Originals. As of May 2022, that number is now sitting at 47% and is predicted to hit 50% in August 2022 according to our metrics.

On the movie front, that number isn’t quite as drastic. Just over 30% of the Netflix movie library is made up of Netflix Originals as of early May 2022.

So how many Netflix Original movies are there? As of May 5th, we count that there are 917 Netflix Original movies (this excludes documentaries and stand-up specials – our main movie list includes them) with that number likely hitting 1,000 by the end of 2022. According to data from VarietyInsight and IMDbPro, there are north of 350 Netflix Original movies in development, in production or awaiting release on Netflix in 2022 and beyond (many of which we cover in our main movie preview)


Does Netflix mainly have newer movies or older movies?

One of the frequent criticisms that Netflix gets is that it’s reliant on older movies to stock its library. According to our stats, that’s inaccurate. In fact, the majority of the movies on Netflix came from the 2010s with the second most being in the 2020s which is surprising given we’re only two years into the decade.

Here’s how the movies on the Netflix movie library breaks down by decade:

movies by decade netflix


 

What’s the worst on Netflix right now?

Using IMDb scores, we can tell you what’s the worst movie is currently on Netflix (we’ll likely do a bigger list of these at a later date) and currently, with only a 1.5 on IMDb, 2016’s Aerials ranks as the worst movie currently available.

In terms of the worst Netflix Original movie, that accolade currently sits with the 2019 Italian movie, The App which only holds a 2.7 on IMDb.

Has the quality of movies gotten worse on Netflix? This is a really tricky question to answer but based on averaging IMDb scores (where available) both the May 2015 and May 2022 library holds around a 6 on IMDb on average according to our figures.


Where does Netflix get its movies from?

Besides commissioning and acquiring movies to put under its Netflix Original umbrella, it also licenses lots of movies from third-party distributors. As we’ve already alluded to, these licensed movie taps aren’t quite as flowing as they used to be but where is Netflix getting its new movies from?

Warner Brothers remain the biggest licenser of movies to Netflix according to our first of the month analysis in 2022. On April 1st, for example, they provided 23 movies to Netflix whereas Universal provided 8.

With Warner Brothers now solely focused on HBO Max, will that tap eventually be cut off completely? That was signaled by Jason Kilar in a Tweet in January 2021 answering why Netflix still gets some of Warner Brothers’ biggest movies saying:

“Was a function of something done years ago when (what was then called) Time Warner did not have direct to consumer as a top priority. That has changed. As these licensing deals run out each month, you will see titles flowing to HBO Max. Gossip Girl this month for example.”

Sony is also one of the key companies still actively licensing to Netflix with their older movies.

Netflix US also still continues to license movies from Universal, Lionsgate, Paramount, STX, Vertical, and other smaller distributors. Netflix notably does not license Disney movies anymore (it lost the first window rights in 2020 and all library content long before then) and rarely licenses 20th Century Fox movies.

Of course, in most of these cases, these distributors have their own streaming services to feed. Also, there are a lot more buyers on the market for streaming rights therefore, when movie rights come up, they’re in high demand.

Starting in 2022, Netflix has reversed course from not re-upping first-window deals to striking new publicly announced deals with Sony and Universal. The former will see both their animation and their live-action suite come to Netflix for the entirety of the first window. In the latter, we’ll see their animation movies come for part of the first window and live-action in around 4 years’ time. In both instances, they announced that select library titles (released theatrically before 2022) will be coming to Netflix.

With thanks to our friends at NewonNetflix.info for helping assist with this article. 

Netflix Movie Library Shrunk by 35% Since 2015 But Is Growing Again

Article by

Covering Netflix since 2013, Kasey has been tracking the comings and goings of the Netflix library for close to a decade. Resides in the United Kingdom.