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Netflix Considers Licensing Original Content to Other Media Companies

Jeff Kotuby

Could we start seeing Netflix Originals pop up on other networks and platforms? If a report by The Information is any indication, you just might start seeing the iconic Netflix logo appear on traditional broadcast outlets.

According to reports, Netflix has been in talks with ViacomCBS and NBCUniversal about licensing Netflix Originals, both shows and movies, to their platforms — including their linear networks. Considering Netflix gained its momentum from licensing shows to its service, this seems like an interesting role reversal. The Information report said shows would be licensed on a “limited basis” and would be tailored for release on linear, meaning they won’t be releasing the entire series at once, opting for weekly releases.

The split of Netflix Originals up for licensing were interesting, to say the least. While NBCUniversal was interested in “The Christmas Chronicles,” a family-friendly holiday film, CBS was interested in “Bird Box” a holiday release that was anything but family-friendly. The Information suggested that these older films were up for licensing since they no longer generate revenue for the platform.

As traditional media houses like CBS and NBC have started hoarding their content and placing it on their own streaming services, Netflix has had to boost their original content production. The move has paid off, as shows like “Ozark,” “Cobra Kai,” and “Lucifer” have been successful properties for the streaming titan. A Nielsen report showed that 9 of the top 10 original streaming properties in 2020 belonged to Netflix, though this was powered by the shows’ “binge-ability,” something that won’t be possible on traditional television.

This isn’t the first time Netflix has discussed licensing content out, either. Reruns of its popular dark comedy “Bojack Horseman” began appearing on Comedy Central in 2018. The move made perfect sense for both parties, as Comedy Central wanted another animation success after “South Park” and Netflix was no doubt interested in seeing how a licensing agreement would work.

For the full year, Netflix said it added a record 37 million paid memberships, reached $25 billion in annual revenue – up 24% year over year – and grew operating profit 76% to $4.6 billion. Netflix reportedly spent over $17 billion on content in 2020.

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