Netflix announced its next big original content play Monday: The video service has struck a deal with Sony Pictures for an original drama from the creators of the FX drama Damages. The show doesn’t have a title yet, but will focus on “a family of adult siblings whose secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep brother returns home,” according to a press release. The production of the new show will begin in early 2014.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that this is the first time that a major Hollywood studio has teamed up with Netflix for a new original TV show. Netflix’s previous two original hits, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, were produced by Media Rights Capital and Lionsgate, respectively. Netflix did team up with Fox for the fifth season of Arrested Development, but that was a bit of an edge case since company essentially resurrected a TV show that had been canceled.
Why is the partnership with a major studio so important? Because it shows how Hollywood is beginning to take a second look at how it makes money from TV shows, and the revenue Netflix can bring to the table. Netflix will have the exclusive rights to premiere the show in all of its markets, which means that Sony won’t be able to sell the TV rights to buyers in the UK, Canada, Latin America and parts of continental Europe.
Sony presumably will be able to sell the show to traditional TV networks in non-Netflix territories, as well as make it available as VOD and on DVD after a few months — but Netflix likely also paid a considerable premium over what traditional TV networks would have been willing to pay.
Don’t be surprised to see more partnerships like this in Netflix’s future. The company has said that it wants to double its original content output in 2014, but Netflix CFO David Wells said at a recent investor event that the company will continue to rely on third parties to produce its content. Asked whether Netflix will have its own production lot in Hollywood any time soon, Wells said: “I wouldn’t suspect that.”
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