OPINION: Completion rates are destroying creativity

Person tied to chair with TV static in the background.

Margo Weese


Heather Rabassa, Copy Editor

Many of the most popular, cult classic television shows would not be around today if they followed the current algorithm that Netflix is trying to push.
Completion rates are a measure of how many people watch a show from start to finish. However, for people who take their time to enjoy and absorb their entertainment, their data does not get counted. By using this form of measurement, it forces viewers to binge their shows and consume them entirely too quickly.
Shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Office” would not exist if their success was initially gauged by completion rates. These shows did not garner attention immediately and took multiple seasons to build the fan bases that they are known for now.
This also means that television shows that make the top 10 most watched rank on Netflix are not even secured a renewal for another season. That list measures how many people start watching the show, not how many people finish watching the show.
This way of measuring does not take into account that people have lives and cannot always be consuming entertainment at every waking hour of the day. There are also people, like myself, that do not watch certain shows alone. Arranging schedules between two or more people and expecting them to binge the entirety of a season within a short time frame is unrealistic.
Gone are the days of slow burning mysteries that take seasons to unfold. This new algorithm is forcing shows to pump out in-your-face content that is high energy or else risk failing the standards set by Netflix.
There is no consideration for quality anymore. The only thing that matters is viewership. There is no more room for creativity in the entertainment industry and there hasn’t been for a while. The line-up of movies and shows for this year are almost completely taken over by sequels and remakes.
They are chaining themselves to an algorithm that cages their artistry. Where has the time gone of sticking your neck out to create a work of art that has never been done before? Netflix is no longer willing to gamble on out-of-the-box ideas because they balk at the first sign of failure.
While everyone should be able to enjoy anything they want to, we need to be holding our entertainment industry to a higher standard. I’m not asking for actresses and actors to complete 20 hour work days, all I’m asking for is a script and a production team that cares a little bit more about the content that they are putting out.
Let’s get rid of the notion that all content needs to be binged. Let me enjoy my show at my own pace. Netflix should have more confidence and ownership in the stories they are creating and stop worrying about whether or not I finish it on their timeline.