Netflix Bets on Original Content, With 80 Original Films and 30 Anime Series in 2018
Netflix has made no secret about its push toward original content, reportedly aiming for “Netflix originals” to eventually constitute 50% of their streaming content. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that, during a Q3 meeting with investors, chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that they’ll be making even more original content in 2018.
The company released approximately 50 original films this year, including titles like Okja, The Incredible Jessica James, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, and War Machine, but they want to increase that number to 80 for 2018. Polygon reports that they’ll also produce 30 new anime series in 2018.
“I think people will start seeing the potential for this original movie initiative, that it could be done on the enormous scale we have on the television side,” said Sarandos. He also touted the success of this year’s films. “We had three different films released this quarter that, if viewing was buying a movie ticket, would be sizable successes in Death Note, Naked, and To the Bone, and probably very little audience crossover between them. That’s the benefit of the great new original programming coming nearly every day on Netflix.”
Of course, when Netflix produces an “original,” that doesn’t necessarily mean they shoot and develop it. Plenty of their past originals are picked up at Sundance or other festivals after they’ve already been made, and so Netflix is really just paying for the distribution and licensing rights.
As for the anime initiative, it definitely makes sense given the global anime appetite. Admittedly, Crunchyroll, easily the largest anime streaming service, only recently passed 1 million paid subscribers, as compared to estimates of Netflix’s 128 million, Amazon’s 85.3 million, and Hulu’s 32 million. However, Crunchyroll also has 20 million registered users, and I suspect the market for casual anime fans is even larger. There are plenty of people who’d never sign up for a Crunchyroll subscription, but still grew up watching Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or Naruto, and now catch the occasional series like Attack on Titan.
So does this shift to original programming have anything to do with the expected price hike? Netflix CFO David Wells claims that “there’s no timing correlation between our intent to grow content, and to grow content spending, and the price increases” – but I’ll let you all be the judge of that.
All in all, I’m excited for more of the weird content Netflix has put out; it’s definitely been hit-or-miss, but I appreciate that they’re usually swinging for the fences. However, as streaming platforms aim for more original content, and IP owners like Disney move to create their own subscription services, I’m just hoping that streaming TV/film doesn’t become Cable 2.0: segmented, super-expensive, and way too dependent on ad revenue for their profits.
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