Netflix has a lot fewer top-rated movies than it did 2 years ago

Paramount Pictures

Netflix’s US streaming catalog has shrunk by over 50% since 2012, but Netflix has always argued that the quality of the material keeps getting better.

In 2013, Netflix began producing original shows and movies, which were more expensive but gave subscribers something they couldn’t get anywhere else.

“You can imagine that we could have a million low-quality videos that almost no one wants to watch and then say, hey, we have the largest catalog in the world,” Netflix’s Carlos Gomez-Uribe told Business Insider in a recent interview. “What matters is how many videos are people actually watching.”

However, there’s some evidence that Netflix is actually losing quality titles as it invests more in originals.

Here’s one example: Netflix’s selection of the top movies ever made, at least by IMDB ratings, has gone down in the last two years by a substantial amount.

In August 2014, a Reddit user tracked how many of IMDB’s top 250 movies list were available to stream on Netflix. At the time, 49 were available, which is around 20% of the total. Streaming Observer, a blog that tracks the streaming industry, decided to revisit the list and see if it had changed. They found that in September, only 31 of those movies were available, or about 12% of the total.

Netflix has repeatedly says that its focus moving forward is on “exclusive” titles: either “originals” it makes itself, or shows and movies not available on other streaming services. Getting great movies is part of the goal, but it’s also important that those classics aren’t available on Amazon, Hulu, and so on. The goal is to get you hooked enough on Netflix to keep you paying that $9.99 per month.

Here are the IMDB top 250 movies that were available to stream on Netflix as of September, according to Streaming Observer:

Pulp Fiction Forrest Gump The Usual Suspects Saving Private Ryan Back to the Future Gladiator Sunset Boulevard Cinema Paradiso Django Unchained The Shining American Beauty Reservoir Dogs Braveheart Amélie To Kill a Mockingbird Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Amadeus The Hunt Good Will Hunting V for Vendetta Trainspotting No Country for Old Men Into the Wild There Will Be Blood Spotlight The Princess Bride Zootopia The Truman Show Jaws Ip Man Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Netflix declined to comment.