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Netflix Unwraps Ambitious New Schedule, Still Hides Numbers
July 27, 2016  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments

BEVERLY HILLS – Netflix is on track to rule the world, says Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. At least the television world.

The streaming service will spend "more than" $6 billion on original programming this year, Sarandos told the Television Critics Association here Wednesday, in addition to cutting deals for outside programming like next year’s Star Trek series.

Upcoming original shows will include Santa Clarita Diet with Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore; Godless with Michelle Dockery and Jeff Daniels; the children’s performance show Julie’s Greenroom with Julie Andrews, and an animated Llama Llama with Jennifer Garner as the voice of Mama Llama.

More immediately, Netflix will roll out the long-awaited Gilmore Girls revival on Nov. 25. Its four 90-minute episodes, the network hopes, will be ideal family viewing for Thanksgiving weekend.  

Other upcoming premieres will include the animated Beat Bugs, which features Beatles songs, on Aug. 3 and then again with a new series on Nov. 18; a new ensemble relationship drama called Easy, on Sept. 22; the techno-horror anthology Black Mirror (top) on Oct. 21; the hostage docu-drama Captive on Dec. 9; and a reworking of the old One Day at a Time show, this time featuring a Cuban family, on Jan. 9.

Netflix also has five new Marvel shows in the pipeline, with Luke Cage scheduled to drop on Sept. 30, then Iron Fist and The Defenders due up next with unscheduled release dates.

Sarandos, who has said in the past that Netflix would not be inclined to release more than two new Marvel shows a year, said the only change in the network’s approach is that it would like to speed up production to cut the time gap between seasons.

Sarandos noted Netflix is also continuing its push in children’s programming, which resulted in 30 daytime Emmy nominations to go with its 54 prime-time Emmy nominations.

While Netflix has plenty of numbers, however, it also has one big unknown, which is the number of people who actually watch its programs.

Sarandos repeated Wednesday what he always says to that question, which is that Netflix doesn’t release viewer numbers because to Netflix they don’t matter.

"Our revenue comes from subscriptions," he said. "If people like what we provide, they will tell their friends and our subscription base will grow. If they don’t like it, they will cancel and our base will shrink."

That’s why, he said, Netflix commissions a wide range of shows, from documentaries and children’s programs to comedies and dark dramas.

Viewer numbers only matter to providers who must sell those numbers to advertisers, he said, and Netflix does not.

The rest of the television industry remains curious, however, and the ratings service Nielsen caused a stir earlier this year when it announced it was counting Netflix viewers.

While those numbers are proprietary, Nielsen’s figures did get released for June’s season premiere of Orange Is the New Black.

The first episode drew 6.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen, which puts it in the ballpark with the summer’s most-watched cable drama, Game of Thrones.

Sarandos (right) dismissed the relevance of those numbers Wednesday, saying that two services claimed to have measured the Netflix audience "and one number was double the other," which suggests that a truly "accurate" figure remains elusive.

He added that Netflix would be happy with either number, but it still didn’t matter.

More important, he said, was finding programs that would serve the network’s most fertile area for future expansion: the world outside the U.S. and the West.  

"The international market is very different," he said, which he added makes it encouraging that shows like Orange is the New Black and Narcos have been popular around the globe.

Netflix is also acquiring shows with proven worldwide appeal, like next year’s new Star Trek, which Netflix will distribute everywhere but in the U.S. and Canada.

"You’ve never seen an international television network," Sarandos said. "But you’re seeing one being built now."

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Mark Isenberg
Those of us who binge watch Netflix series like Stranger Things or House of Cards or when it helped produce Denmark TV's Rita series,now cancelled,understand Netflix is throwing a lot out there and we have little time to figure out what is must watch or what is just in the Island of Misfit DVDs. Amazon has one powerhouse series,Shameless and a minor hit it Hand of God but Netflix will continue to reign even above HBO for the wide range of predictable movies and unusual imports and amazing original series and they have a wonderful chat service where you can get a real person to type forever but get answers to your questions.
Jul 29, 2016   |  Reply
David, I'm curious if you can recall the industry's immediate reaction when Netflix first announced they would be creating original programming? Did they think they were crazy, or skeptical about it possibly being any good? Or was there some expectation that it would become the juggernaut and trailblazer that it has become?
Jul 28, 2016   |  Reply
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