5 MAY 2023

Why did Netflix decide to cancel “1899”?

BB Media set out to analyze the case of “1899,” which caught the attention of millions of followers and experts when it was canceled less than two months after its release in Netflix.


As witnesses of the efforts made by the audiovisual entertainment industry to adapt and evolve in the current context, BB Media set out to analyze the case of “1899,” which caught the attention of millions of followers and experts when it was canceled less than two months after its release in Netflix.

Based on actual audience data from SoDA Latam by BB Media & Digital, the company aimed to better understand the possible arguments that Netflix could have considered in making its decision about 1899,” and it also did a comparison with “Dark,” the successful German series by the same showrunners, Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, with similar genre and themes, as well as other popular examples such as “Wednesday” or “Manifest.”

First, a context was defined based on the main metrics that “1899” marked in the 15 Latin American and European countries that were analyzed: it remained in the Top 10 for five weeks, achieved a global reach of 43.9 million accounts, with 281 million views and +13 billion minutes watched. All these figures are very promising for having been achieved in just over a quarter, similar to those achieved by the first season of “Dark” over five years, although far from those achieved by “Wednesday” in the same period (15 weeks in the Top 10, 72 million reach, 957 million views, +41 billion minutes watched).

As a next step, when analyzing the interests of the audience, it was found that 72% of those who watched “1899” had also watched “Dark,” confirming the audience’s affinity with titles from the same showrunners. However, it is possible that Netflix was hoping that the new title would attract a new audience in a greater proportion, which may have added to the decision to cancel.

Looking further, a focus was made on analyzing the completion rate of “1899.” This metric evaluates what percentage of accounts that watched the first episode continued watching the following episodes until the last. In that sense, “1899” was the series with the lowest figures of all those analyzed. As a pattern, it is possible to observe that the first seasons of “Dark,” “Manifest” and “Wednesday” concluded with a rate above 50%, while “1899” remained below. As an indicator of user engagement and retention, it is likely that Netflix found a determining point here, according to BB.

On the other hand, during the quarter of its launch, “1899” ranked 10º in the Top of Mind of consumers in Latin America, with a 10% share compared to the first place occupied by “Wednesday,” while “Dark” ranked 26º. In comparison, the Top of Mind for the launch quarters of each season of “Dark” is as follows: 7th place in Q4 2017, with a score of 30% of the first place; 6th place in Q4 2019, with a score of 50% of the first place; and 1st place in Q2 2020, its last season. This made it possible to identify a trend in the level of recall for “Dark” over time.

To further understand the performance of “1899,” an analysis of the Content Popularity Rate was proposed. During March and April 2023, the most striking result is that “1899” marked the lowest rate among the contents analyzed in most countries.

Finally, the weight that the budget of “1899” may have had in its performance and reach achieved was considered as a determining part of the analysis. The first season of “1899” is estimated to have cost around €50 million, making it the most expensive German series in history. For reference, the first season of “Dark” cost around €18 million. While these figures are estimates, there is a clear difference in cost that Netflix did not see reflected in the performance of “1899” and ultimately failed to achieve the expected objectives.

“Some of these arguments, or all to some extent, may have played an important role in Netflix’s final decision. It is clear that this decision was based on real data, performance metrics, reach, and popularity, fundamental tools that every company requires today to navigate the current context of this industry,”  said Santiago Zapata, Analysis Team Leader at BB Media and the author of the report.