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Why Netflix Thinks It Can Make Movie Studio Duds Successful in Streaming

Stephanie Sengwe

The removal of Friends and The Office from Netflix has caused quite the stir among consumers and industry experts alike. For their part, the streaming service has made an effort to abate those worries by affirming that it’s now going to put more focus on its original programming.

At the NATPE Streaming Plus conference, VP Acquisitions Amy Reinhard offered another point of view, by pointing out that sure, Friends and The Office are popular, but they are not the entire backbone of the service. Reinhard reminded everyone that when she first arrived at Netflix in 2016, major programming from Fox and Discovery were leaving the service, yet, the company still maintained its stronghold. “I was sure it was going to make a dent,” she said. “But when you look at how consumers are migrating, they just find other content to watch.”

Reinhard also reminded the audience that Netflix also has international viewership, which does well for the service. Netflix has partnered with U.S. studios, taking international rights to film releases. Two recent examples were Warner Bros’ Shaft and Isn’t it Romantic?, which, despite not causing much enthusiasm at the box office domestically, have been a success on Netflix internationally. “When you do the comps, you expect it to be in that $40 million-$45 million range domestically, and then you struggle to see how it would do internationally,” she said, describing the traditional approach. At Netflix, “there’s a certain value you can ascribe to the international rights. You’re not waiting for TV windows six years down the road.”

Netflix has also had a knack for picking up films and shows that have been put on the back burner and then become a hit on the platform. For example, last February, the service picked up the third installment in the Cloverfield franchise and caused seismic waves when the entire movie premiered on the platform after airing an ad during the Super Bowl. The Cloverfield Paradox went on to garner five million viewers in its first seven days post-release. Another heavy-hitter was You, which was cancelled by Lifetime and went on to be watched by 40 million member households in its first four weeks on the service.

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