They were two of the most ambitious – and most expensive – shows on television, but now Netflix's The Get Down and Sense8 have been cancelled.

It was a landmark moment for the streaming service, which rarely calls time on its Original series prematurely – period drama Marco Polo perhaps being the only major exception of recent years.

So what happened? Why did Moulin Rouge director Baz Lurhmann's hip hop epic fail to pick up a second season, or transnational sci-fi Sense8 not get beyond season two?

Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos has given a little hint of what made the company cancel both shows within a week of each other.

“Relative to what you spent, are people watching it? That is pretty traditional,” he explained at an industry panel according to Variety. “When I say that, a big expensive show for a huge audience is great. A big, expensive show for a tiny audience is hard even in our model to make that work very long.”

The Get Down cost a reported $12 million per episode to make; Sense8 cost a reported $9 million an episode.

Sarandos is attempting to look on the bright side: “It’s one of those things that you know you’re pushing the envelope if every once in a while you fall," he said.

"And you go back and start over again. If you have hit after hit after hit, you question yourself — are you trying hard enough? Are you too conventional?”

That said, sounds like Netflix might just start behaving like a "conventional" broadcaster and start making more tough decisions about its shows.