Netflix starts licensing its own originals
The Future. Netflix is switching up how it brings stand-up comedy specials to the platform, opting to license specials for two years at a (relatively) smaller licensing fee than the lifetime buyouts that came with rich paychecks. That means some comics may be trading a hefty payday for long-term control of their specials… or tempt them to look at other streamers willing to pony up more.
Cap the laughs
According to WSJ, Netflix is willing to share its jokes.
- After years of exclusively buying out rights for comedy specials — one of the most popular genres on the platform — Netflix is starting to offer comics a two-year-long licensing agreement for $200,000.
- That’s a lot less than the lump-sum $1 million many comics commanded, which also paid for the stand-up shows to be filmed. Under the licensing agreement, comics would have to front production costs.
- But it does give comics more control over the life of their special. Besides regaining ownership after the license period, comics will also finally be allowed to post clips on personal social channels (Netflix’s own Fast Laughs platform just isn’t enough).
The move is meant to help cut costs amid Netflix’s overall belt-tightening… especially as comedy specials, reportedly, don’t draw in new subscribers or keep existing ones as much as other types of content.
Netflix hasn’t totally scrapped the bigger buyout deals (Dave Chappelle will easily still command tens of millions of dollars). Still, top comics such as Whitney Cummings have already inked a licensing agreement. And as long as Ted Sarandos is running things, Netflix will always be a home for comedy — he’s a massive fan and friends with Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld.
And while HBO was in decades past the place to launch a comedy career (other than SNL, of course), Netflix has become a bellwether for rising comedy talent, minting the careers of Ali Wong and Iliza Shlesinger. And with the company launching its first Netflix Is A Joke festival in 2021 (where a lot of specials this year were filmed), Netflix is just getting started.