The Last Czars is now available on Netflix globally, but there’s a good chance you haven’t come across the show or seen any promotion for it. Let’s delve into why this show was seemingly set up to fade away.
The show was first announced to be in production for Netflix back in October 2017, but all went quiet as it entered development. It wasn’t until mid-June 2019 that Netflix discreetly added a release date to the show’s official page. We wrote a post and were among the first to cover the show in the year and a half since its announcement.
The critique that Netflix fails to promote its shows adequately is not new. Many have cited poor promotion as a key reason for the cancellations of shows like Sense8, One Day at a Time, and Santa Clarita Diet.
Weeks passed, and promotion for the show from Netflix’s official channels never materialized. To this date, a trailer has not been uploaded to Netflix’s official YouTube account.
The show was not, and is not, available on the Netflix media site.
A tweet promoting the show didn’t appear until six days after its release, ironically from an account named “see what’s next.”
— Netflix Queue (@netflixqueue) July 9, 2019
Promotion for the show in the UK, where it was produced, seemed to be limited to Ben Cartwright’s appearance on ITV’s daytime TV show Lorraine on the release day.
Since its release, promotion from news outlets has somewhat carried the show, and it did manage to break into the top 10 most-watched in the UK the week it was released, but it fell out of the top 10 the following week.
Why was the show under-promoted? Here are a couple of possible reasons.
Was the show just not good enough?
The first thing we might consider is that Netflix chose not to promote the show heavily because it simply wasn’t up to par.
However, that’s not the case, as audiences have actually rated it as one of the highest debut shows of 2019. It currently holds a 7.2 on IMDb and a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes.
While there has been significant criticism regarding historical accuracy, that’s to be expected with a show that blends dramatization with documentary elements.
Russia also reportedly wasn’t too impressed with the show, but a similar reaction occurred with HBO’s Chernobyl, which only helped draw attention to the series.
The Stranger Things Effect
Netflix has a significant excuse for the lack of promotion: Stranger Things. Releasing a day after The Last Czars, one could argue that all the promotion for Stranger Things completely overshadowed it. In that case, why didn’t Netflix opt (as it did on the Friday immediately following ST3’s release) to delay or advance The Last Czars to avoid a clash with Stranger Things?
What’s the answer? We don’t know; we only have questions. But just yesterday, Netflix cited a scarcity of hits as a reason for slowing subscriber numbers. When the company doesn’t even do the bare minimum to promote its shows, can anyone be surprised?
Utopia, the TV production company behind the show, has another upcoming project on Netflix.