Netflix has recently made it clear it is in search of its own big franchises. However, every big and beloved story still needs to be… sold.
When it comes to undisputed hits like 'Stranger Things', Netflix is just perfect when it comes to marketing: from hyped social media accounts that rattle through Twitter and even engage in discussions with fans to real-life across-the-globe promo campaigns, the platform lets it all out to support the show.
But what about the shows that are not as massive and phenomenally popular as 'Stranger Things'? Does it necessarily indicate that they are simply "worse" than the big thing or is it really about the amount of PR and marketing poured into the project?
The truth, as often, might be somewhere in between. However, if you ask fans of less acclaimed Netflix projects, the platform is notoriously reluctant to overly promote its more niche products. And that might be exactly the problem. Let's take a look at three recent Netflix projects that fans believe could have done so much better if the platform was invested more: 'The Umbrella Academy', 'First Kill', and… 'The Sandman'.
'The Umbrella Academy'
Based on the comics by Gerard Way, 'The Umbrella Academy' is a chaotic show about a dysfunctional family of superheroes who had to muscle through an extravagant style of parenting that their adoptive father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, had.
Having to face an apocalypse (literally) each season, the family somehow manages to make it through and even show good numbers. 'The Umbrella Academy' scored 124.5M hours viewed after its season 3 premiere, even dethroning 'Stranger Things' Volume 1 for a while.
But this is where problems start. According to fans, 'The Umbrella Academy' was crammed in between two chapters of 'Stranger Things 4' because of the platform's lack of enthusiasm about the former. There were even speculations that Netflix wanted to strike the show down and did everything in its power to make it happen: from throwing 'The Umbrella Academy' in while its "favourite child" is on a brief hiatus to simply being reluctant to market the show properly.
Ahead of 'The Umbrella Academy 3' premiere, even the most dedicated fans had trouble even remembering about the June 22 release (notably, there have been no announcements about the potential renewal).
"The marketing for this season of Umbrella Academy has been atrocious because apparently it’s out today and even as a person whose been waiting for it I had no idea." – @AbnormalAmanda
Some people believe that such an approach is the reason of Netflix's decline.
"The reason Netflix is on the decline is because they push shows like ‘how to build a sex room’ and then give Season 3 of Umbrella Academy (one of their best shows) a marketing budget of about £5. I only knew it came out was because I saw the footloose dance scene on Twitter." – @EthanJMighall_
But it's not only about 'The Umbrella Academy'.
When it just came out, 'First Kill' became a surprise success: landing on Netflix's Top-10 English-language shows list and eclipsing 100M viewing hours, the teen vampire lesbian drama took the platform by storm.
With such figures, few people doubted that the announcement of season 2 was too far away. However, things took a sudden U-turn: no season 2 happened because the show was killed by Netflix.
The fans were furious after learning that the platform never renewed the show. One might think whatever one wants about the show's storytelling and acting, but even the showrunner, Felicia D. Henderson, took issue with how Netflix only promoted 'First Kill' as a vampire lesbian teenage drama, never paying attention to other aspects of the show that might have lured audience in.
Henderson is not the only person to think so.
"Netflix gave First Kill not the right budget it deserved. It was clear they never planned on renewing it. They barley promoted the show and the CGI and special effects aren't the best. Also feel like they should have been more episodes, to really right the story more fully." – @VinzoValentino
With 'First Kill' fans mourning the show that now seems to be entirely lost for Netflix, there is another series that has just premiered and might actually become the "big thing" Netflix is so actively searching for – but fans fear it might face just the same fate.
To be fair, it would be too early to judge: an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's legendary graphic novel, 'The Sandman' has literally just premiered. Currently streaming on Netflix, the show might be the platform's big hopeful – unless the lack of proper marketing undermines its prospects.
According to some fans, the dangerous tendency is already starting to show. 'The Sandman' does not seem to be enjoying a lot of space on Netflix's front page, and many people faced a similar problem 'The Umbrella Academy' fans have been lamenting about: the platform does not seem to be too eager to remind them about the premiere.
This time, however, things might work better for 'The Sandman' than they did for 'The Umbrella Academy' (arguably still going) and 'First Kill' (unfortunately, not going anywhere now). If Netflix manages to learn a lesson from what fans seem to be screaming about on social media, then the story about the Master of Dreams might become its Harry Potter-like franchise.