Netflix to Expand Original Slate to Include Documentary Films, Stand-Up Comedy

/ Jul 22, 2013


Netflix will soon expand its original programming strategy to include genres like feature-length documentary films and stand-up comedy specials, according to what the company said in its Q2 earnings letter to shareholders. “Netflix has become a big destination for fans of these much-loved and often under-distributed genres,” said Netflix in the letter, which is signed by CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells.

Beyond that, Netflix shouted out its original programming successes to date, including the 14 Emmy nominations it received for “House of Cards,” “Arrested Development,” and “Hemlock Grove,” and how it’s planning on bringing pretty much every show back for a second season. “We assess the success of each Original by looking at viewing-to-date and estimated future viewing, relative to cost. So far, we’ve ordered second seasons of all first season projects, which is quite unusual and exciting for the fans of these shows,” said Netflix, adding that the company would be “delighted to produce a fifth season of ‘Arrested Development,’ if possible, given fan reaction.”

Netflix also previewed the original shows it has calendared for the rest of 2013. These include the premiere of “Mako Mermaids” later this month, as well as the launch of Ricky Gervais’ “Derek,” season two of “Lilyhammer,” and the DreamWorks-produced “Turbo: F.A.S.T.” (based on the animated film released this past weekend) later this year. “We’re excited about our plans for 2014 and beyond as we premiere season two of House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, and Orange is the New Black, and debut Sense 8, and multiple kids Originals from DreamWorks Animation,” the company added.

“We’ll continue to build on our initial success with Originals as we gain confidence in our ability to use our judgment and data to find projects that our members will enjoy,” the company said.

Interestingly, while speaking about its competitors, Netflix likened its relationship with Amazon and Hulu to the one that currently exists between HBO, Showtime, and Starz. “Hulu and Amazon Prime Instant Video continue to license some exclusive content and develop their own Originals. We have ‘House of Cards’ and many others; Hulu has ‘Battleground’; and Amazon Prime Instant Video will have ‘Alpha House’; all are quite good and quite different,” the company said in its letter to shareholders.

As for the other stuff: Netflix closed out the first quarter of 2013 with 36.2 million streaming subscribers across all of its territories. That number inched up to nearly 37.6 million (29.81 million domestic and 7.75 million international) at the end of the second quarter, according to the Q2 earnings the company just released this afternoon. In April, Netflix’s guidance for its global streaming subscriber numbers was between 36.7 million and 37.95 million, so it hit that mark even though some analysts had predicted the company would reach as high as 39 million global streaming subscribers by the end of the last quarter.

Netflix says streaming revenue was up 26% domestically and 155% internationally year-over-year.

I’ll leave other people to analyze what that all means for now, but if you want to hear more from Netflix, watch their Q2 earnings live stream, which will be available here beginning at 6pm ET.

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