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Which Streaming Service Cancels the Most Shows? The Answer May Surprise You

A new study has pointed out which streaming service cancels the most shows, and the answer may surprise you. We’ve all lamented the cancelation of our favorite shows. Just this year, axed streaming projects include 1899, Doom Patrol, Lockwood & Co., Freeridge, Gossip Girl, Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, The Great, A League of Their Own, Willow, and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, just to name a few. There’s bound to be more heartache on the way—the continued and necessary strikes in Hollywood might push the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers overlords to make some harmfully drastic decisions. Unfortunately, right now, there’s just no way to know what the future holds.

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We here at The Mary Sue have cried over plenty of shows that have been canceled before their time and decried the horrifying new reality that streamers can pull our favorite productions off their platforms for incomprehensible tax reasons. But which of all these giant entertainment companies cancels the most shows overall?

As reported by Variety, a study conducted by Variety Intelligence Program (VIP+) and collaborator Luminate examined the exact number of shows (scripted and unscripted) canceled by the top streaming platforms based in the U.S.—Netflix, Disney+, Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+, Paramount+, and Peacock—between 2020 and August 8, 2023. They compared this data to how many shows were canceled by linear TV (broadcast and cable) in that same period.

Overall, the major streamers together canceled 12.2% of their total programming, while linear TV canceled a total of 10.8% of its programming. There isn’t a huge gulf between the two, though that additional 1.4% percent can certainly have meant the difference between a renewal and a cancelation of your all-time favorite show.

When it comes to streamers, however, the biggest culprit was Max—formerly known as HBO Max. According to the study, Max was responsible for a whopping 26.9% of all series cancelations over a three-year period. That’s more than a quarter of all total cancelations made by just one company. Warner Bros. Discovery famously buried the Batgirl movie despite it being near completion, chasing those pesky tax breaks and starting an avalanche of horrifying behavior in Hollywood. Other victims of Warner Bros. Discovery’s axing spree were Minx (though it was thankfully picked up by another platform), Westworld, and a massive range of children’s and animated programming. We probably should have seen this result coming.

Soon after Warner Bros. Discovery took the first steps to pull shows off their streaming service whenever they fancied, Disney+ started doing the same thing—remember what happened to Willow? As a result, Disney is the second worst offender in the study, having canceled 21.1% of all streaming shows between 2020 and August this year.

Following Disney+ is Paramount+, with 16.9% of all cancelations in that same period, and Hulu is hot on Paramount’s heels, boasting 15.2% of all streaming TV series cancelations. After that comes Netflix with 10.2% (I’m as surprised as you are, believe me), Peacock with 10%, Amazon Prime Video with nine percent, and Apple TV+ with a mere 4.9%.

It should be said, however, that the rate of cancelation at these streamers is relative to their rates of production. Netflix has a massive library of high-profile original shows, so their cancelation rate will seem higher to the average viewer. In comparison, Apple TV+ has a relatively small catalog of original series, so there’s less content for them to cancel overall. The study did also show, however, that streamers were more likely to cancel shows after just one season than linear TV—though Variety‘s article made a point to mention that the difference was not all that significant.

Since 2020, a total of 221 shows were canceled across all major streamers. That’s a lot of stories left unfinished, and a lot of hard work by creatives left behind. Though this study is certainly illuminating, the real viewership data is still being kept tightly under wraps by streaming services, and until they allow everyone else to take a peek, there’s a good chance we’ll never truly understand why our favorite shows were canceled before they got a chance to shine.

(via Variety, featured image: Disney+ / Netflix / Max / Amazon Prime Video)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.