Netflix is getting left behind, but there's one area where it's still miles ahead

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I've spent most of 2022 writing about Netflix's troubles in one form or another. 

The streaming giant has had a tough time, all things considered. It's canceled a lot of shows, scrapped a lot of shows before they had a chance to make it to production, and had two big and very expensive rounds of layoffs. 

Earlier in July, it was confirmed that the service had suffered a loss of over 970,000 subscribers, marking the second quarter in succession that the streaming giant has been forced to reveal a dip in subscribers, after the loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. 

As well as that, Netflix's executives and their plans to institute a so-called 'crackdown' on password-sharing have drawn an awful lot of ire. 

Back in April, the streaming giant's executives stated that around 100 million households shared a password with another account.  Since then, they have pursued two different strategies to address this problem. 

First, Netflix trialled a system in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru where a $2.99 surcharge was added to accounts that wanted to share their credentials outside the household. Secondly, it was revealed that the streaming service has begun looking at an alternative “add a home” feature in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

Whenever it rolls out across the rest of the world, it will be supremely unpopular, but Netflix clearly needs the revenue. 

The streaming giant's successes, at least to the wider public, can be summed up in two words: Stranger Things. Elsewhere for drama, it's been a tougher sell. Ozark ended with a bang, but the new run of The Umbrella Academy has underwhelmed. Meanwhile, Anatomy Of A Scandal was given a kicking, as has the streamer's new take on Resident Evil.

The Hargreeves family prepare to fight in The Umbrella Academy season 3 on Netflix

The new season of The Umbrella Academy has underwhelmed.  (Image credit: Netflix)

In terms of quality drama, it's been bettered by both Apple TV Plus and Hulu in 2022. But, quietly, it has been having a stellar year in another area. 

Documentaries. Honestly, this year there have been so many good ones – and Netflix has just unveiled what looks like another winner...

What's up doc?

Netflix is probably best known for its array of true crime documentaries. There are big series like Making A Murderer, Tiger King, The Keepers and Don't F**k With Cats, but its range is so vast and so wide.

In 2022 alone, there's been the brilliant White Hot, an excoriating and jawdropping deep dive into the rise and hard fall of retail chain Abercrombie & Fitch, including the horrendous practices that were dictated by senior management. The Tinder Swindler followed the extraordinary case of an alleged billionaire playboy who extorted millions from unsuspecting women through Tinder – and quickly became real event viewing. We've also had Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, Rory Kennedy’s exposé that investigates the shocking build-up to two Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people within the space of five months in March 2019. 

Now, everyone is talking about The Girl In The Picture, the deep dive into the strange, strange case of Tonya Hughes, whose body was found with a severe head injury on the side of an Oklahoma City road in April 1990. After she died, her co-workers tried to contact her family, only to discover that Tonya Hughes was not her real name, and it all spins out from there.

It's another gripping, grisly watch and it's got everyone talking, something Netflix is gifted at doing with its documentaries. 

And, last week, Netflix dropped the first trailer for what looks like it'll be another winner.

Taking Woodstock...

Trainwreck, or Clusterf**k to give its proper, swearier title, is Netflix's documentary on the events that took place at Woodstock '99.

If you're unfamiliar, Woodstock 99 was supposed to recapture the spirit and wonder of Woodstock 69, where over 400,000 came together to enjoy the likes of Joni Mitchell, The Who and Jefferson Airplane in an atmosphere of joy, love and peace. 

Instead, it descended into utter carnage with violence, multiple sexual assaults, vandalism, looting and arson all taking place across the weekend. Tragically, three people died and MTV, who were covering the event, were forced to flee the scene. 

The doc gathers together all the key players from the weekend and retells the gory details of an event that proved to be a real watershed moment for the music industry. It looks like another fascinating watch and will likely sit alongside Netflix's superb range of documentaries. 

Give me more...

In a tough and ever more competitive market, documentary is the one genre where Netflix is truly streets ahead of the other streaming players, and it's an area where it should be focusing more resources. 

For me, that's far more pertinent when it comes to keeping hold of subscribers, and that's what I want to see from Netflix in 2023 and beyond. 

Clusterf**k is released on Netflix on August 3.

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…