Not even Cobra Kai can cancel out Netflix's current dry spell

Daniel, William, Chozen, and Amanda stand in a line staring at something off screen in Cobra Kai season 5
Cobra Kai season 5's recent success is the only thing propping Netflix up. (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix was pretty confident in its ability to bounce back from its recent troubles during its Q2 2022 earnings report.

Despite its financial issues, sizeable subscriber losses, and show cancelations, the streaming giant was bullish about its prospects in turning its fortunes around. In the two months since its most recent quarterly earnings call, though, Netflix hasn't shown any major signs that it's over the worst of its problems.

In July, Netflix predicted it would add one million subscribers to its current userbase by its Q3 2022 earning call – a bold claim to make, given that the streamer has spent the past two quarters haemorrhaging paid customers. Of course, that's not completely Netflix's fault. The Ukraine-Russia war, coupled with the cost of living crisis in nations including the UK, has meant people choosing to cancel their streaming subscriptions to save money amid rising prices globally.

However, for those who continue to pay for one of Netflix's three current subscriptions – a fourth, ad-based tier is coming soon – the streamer isn't providing enough value for money when it comes to original content.

Netflix's Top 10 website is a great indicator about the streaming company's current slate of movies and TV shows. Every week, Netflix provides a rundown of which films and series are performing best on its platform, showing how many weeks each production has spent in its Top 10 movies and shows lists, as well as how many millions of hours they've been watched.

On the Netflix series front, Cobra Kai season 5 was a big hit for Netflix – the fan favorite pulling in 106.7 million hours viewed in the past seven days (September 5 to 11). Devil in Ohio, too, performed admirably on the TV show front with its 70.8 million hours streamed over the same period.

Look beyond Cobra Kai and Devil in Ohio, though, and the full picture is presented in far more stark fashion.

A screenshot of the 10 best performing Netflix movies between September 5 and 11

Netflix's current slate of movies are struggling to make an impact. (Image credit: Netflix)

End of the Road, the Queen Latifah-starring roadtrip thriller, was the best performing Netflix movie of the past week, with 30.2 million hours streamed. Love in the Villa, I Came By, and Me Time also amassed over 20 million-plus hours each.

So, what's the problem? Frankly, the past seven days – and September overall – have been the quietest period, from a viewership perspective, for Netflix for a long time.

The last time Netflix saw such a quiet week, from a movie perspective, was between May 2 and 8. Back then, 365 Days: This Day managed just 27.5 million hours viewed. The week running April 18 to 24 was even worse for the streamer, with Choose or Die nabbing the number one spot in Netflix's Top 10 film list with a paltry 15.2 million hours streamed.

Since those barren weeks, Netflix has always had a massive (or relatively well-performing) movie hit on its hands. The Adam Sandler-starring Hustle, Spiderhead, The Man from Toronto, The Gray Man, The Sea Beast, Purple Hearts, Day Shift, and Me Time have all pulled in 50 million-plus hours viewed for Netflix since mid-May. 

So far in September, though, Netflix hasn't had a hugely anticipated movie to continue that hot streak. That could change soon – Do Revenge, Lou, Athena, and Ana de Armas' Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde might entice viewers and give the streamer another successful film to add to its back catalog. Should that quartet fail to deliver on fan and critics' expectations, though, September 2022 could be the worst-performing month in Netflix's movie history in a while.

A screenshot of the 10 best performing Netflix shows between September 5 and 11

Cobra Kai season 5 and Devil in Ohio drew in big numbers for Netflix between September 5 and 11. (Image credit: Netflix)

Things aren't looking so good on the TV show front, either. After Cobra Kai and Devil in Ohio, there's a huge drop-off in the number of hours viewed where Netflix's TV offerings are concerned.

The Imperfects, a horror sci-fi series that launched on September 8, only amassed 24 million hours viewed in its first week. After that, other shows, such as Dated and Related, failed to hit the 20 million-plus hours streamed mark.

Cobra Kai's recent success aside, Netflix has only had two TV show eclipse 100 million-plus hours viewed since Stranger Things season 4's unparalleled success earlier this year. Season 4 part 1 arrived on May 27 and quickly racked up a humungous 781 million hours viewed in its first two weeks. Season 4 part 2 launched on July 1 and, after adding another 591 million hours streamed in the two weeks post-release, also set up what's expected to be a thrilling fifth and final season in the hugely popular sci-fi supernatural show.

Virgin River season 4 (105.4 million hours viewed) and The Sandman season 1 (127.5 million hours streamed) are the only non-Cobra Kai series to break the 100 million-plus barrier for Netflix since Stranger Things season 4 part 2. Those figures were accumulated between July 18 and 24, and August 8 and 14, respectively.

Based on its forthcoming TV series schedule, it's unlikely that any of Netflix's upcoming shows will break that barrier, either. Fate: The Winx Saga season 2 and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners arguably have the best chance of doing so – the former being a sequel to a fairly popular show, and the latter a striking anime spin-off of CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 videogame. Apart from that duo, however, the rest of Netflix's September 2022 TV slate is packed with reality-based shows and the odd art-form indie project, such as Rainbow and Entergalactic, which aren't expected to pull in huge viewing figures.

Simply put, Netflix is in the middle of a large barren spell when it comes to top-tier film and TV show offerings – and that's a problem. The streamer needs to give would-be subscribers a reason to sign up to boost its fanbase and its revenue streams, and it's going to struggle to do so if it doesn't provide content that appeals to audiences.

A black and white screenshot of the first image of the Addams Family for Netflix's Wednesday Addams TV show

Upcoming shows like Wednesday might help to turn Netflix's fortunes around. (Image credit: Netflix)

Its October 2022 line-up looks like it could entice people to part with their cash. Mike Flanagan's next project, aka The Midnight Club, is sure to attract TV aficionados. Other potential big hitters, such as The School for Good and Evil, Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities, The Good Nurse, and All Quiet on the Western Front, should aid Netflix's attempts to bolster its subscriber base. With Halloween season right around the corner, too, Netflix fans are sure to log into the platform for a scare or two, such is its sizeable horror movie back catalog, or the possible arrival of its Wednesday Addams spin-off series.

Right now, though, the streaming giant is enduring a dry spell, and it's hurting the streamer's prospects of turning the tide back in its favor. Netflix could really do without a month as arid as September. But, thanks to its middling offerings, it's made a rod of its own back and it'll have to deal with the consequences.

For more Netflix-based coverage, check out every movie set to debut on the streamer in 2022. Alternatively, read our thoughts on whether Netflix should do away with its bingewatching model.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.