What's going to happen in Netflix's phase 2, after House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black?

Now offering hundreds of original series to its customers, with more landing every week, Netflix’s evolution from DVD rental business to major TV producer over the past five years has been supercharged.

But back in 2013, the success of two early originals, House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, that very much put the burgeoning streaming service on the map. With both of those shows now on their way out – a Kevin Spacey-less HoC will drop its sixth and final season on November 2, while OITNB‘s final outing is confirmed for 2019 – it begs the question, what does the future hold for Netflix as it ventures on without these two mainstays?

One trend going forward will be the service looking to produce more of its own series, and cancelling more and more shows produced by outside studios. Indeed, it’s been suggested by Variety that part of the reason why the axe was swung on the critically-acclaimed true-crime spoof American Vandal was because it was produced for Netflix by CBS Television Studios, Funny Or Die and 3 Arts.

Partnering with an outside studio means that certain aspects of creative control needs to be negotiated – a necessary evil for Netflix in its early days of producing original series like House of Cards. By producing more and more shows in-house, a now firmly established Netflix will control the global rights to future projects, further expanding its influence and power as a media player.

What this could mean for customers, going forward? More and more familiar series going the way of American Vandal, with a deluge of new originals – controlled solely by Netflix – taking their place.

The future of Netflix will also be shaped by the actions of its competitors. One of the most notable pivots will come in 2019 when Disney launches its own streaming service.

Disney is not just about Mickey Mouse and kids’ cartoons. It hasn’t been for a while. In 2012, it acquired Lucasfilm in a a deal valued at $4.05 billion, assuming control of the Star Wars franchise. Earlier still, in 2009, it acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion.

Marvel and Netflix have been in business together since 2014, when they announced plans to collaborate on four ongoing live-action series – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist – and one mini-series – The Defenders.

But with a number of new live-action Marvel series expected to be a part of Disney’s streaming service, speculation is now rife that the Marvel / Netflix partnership is about fizzle out, with the recent axing of both Luke Cage and Iron Fist adding fuel to that fire.

Both of these cancellations are believed to have been decisions taken by Netflix rather than Marvel, but it’s entirely possible that Netflix bosses saw the spectre of Disney’s competing service on the horizon and decided to cut their losses. Going forward, Netflix and Disney both want total control of the content on their platforms.

The upshot of all this? In all likelihood, more cancellations: we hate to say it, especially after the creative renaissance of Daredevil‘s recent third season, but if Netflix is looking to cut ties with Marvel, then both that show and Jessica Jones could be next on the chopping block. (After all, love from the critics couldn’t save American Vandal.)

It’s already been announced that big-screen MCU outings will be leaving Netflix behind, with Ant-Man and the Wasp the last Marvel movie to get a streaming release on the platform and Captain Marvel to be the first to debut exclusively on Disney’s service in late 2019.

If Netflix does become a Marvel-free zone, though, that doesn’t mean it’ll be lacking in superhero-themed content – DC Universe, the streaming service launched by Marvel’s biggest rival, isn’t expected to launch in the UK any time soon, with Netflix already scooping up its series Titans for international distribution.

Could it go on to pick up DC Universe’s other upcoming shows, like Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing? If it were looking for a substitute for cancelled Marvel shows, that would certainly make good business sense: unlike Daredevil et al, the DC shows would be ‘pure’ acquisitions, with no financial investment from Netflix.

The bottom line? Lower costs, same amount of superheroes on the service.

The end of House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black is only the beginning. Netflix is now operating in a very different space than it was when the those two shows launched, with its ambitions shifting as more and more competitors emerge.

Expect sweeping change in the months to come: fewer collaborations, more in-house productions and the departure of established shows. The change might not be as pronounced as the one we saw in 2013, but make no mistake, what we’re seeing now is the start of the biggest shift in Netflix’s operation since those bold first steps into original programming.

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