There's a difference, you know. It's not like Netflix is out to punish its customers by removing their favorite movies every once in a while.
Studios would charge Netflix an arm and a leg if it sought everlasting, exclusive licenses for every movie and TV show. Shorter-term deals save Netflix money and give the company a chance to decide whether to renew licenses based on how often Netflix users actually watch them.
So expiring licenses are just a natural part of the Netflix content management process. Calling it a "purge," as many headlines did this week, seems a bit harsh.
If you pay attention to Netflix titles, you'll notice that old content expires all the time and is replaced by new titles. This can happen on any given day, but is more common on weekends, at the end of every month, and especially around the new year.
So what's gone this time and what do we get instead?
A helpful Reddit thread cataloged 92 titles set to expire between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2, and I manually confirmed that all of them are either gone or expiring later this week. Instantwatcher keeps up with newly available Netflix titles, and I found 125 fresh names for the same period. The Reddit thread might not be a complete listing, but includes enough lesser names to make me think it's close. At the very least, the Netflix catalog broke even this holiday.
The numbers don't look terrible. What about quality?
Using the IMDb Top 250 list of user-rated movies as a guide, I'm afraid it was one step forward and two steps back. Two of the new titles rank in the top 100 of the IMDb rankings while three titles in that range were removed. Stepping back to see the entire top 250 list, Netflix added four titles and lost six.
I've included an infographic below to walk you through some of the most interesting titles, in my humble opinion, on both sides of Netflix's latest content refresh. Are the additions better or worse than the deleted titles? You be the judge.