There is an old adage in media that “content is king”, and it certainly seems to be gaining traction in the increasingly crowded streaming television landscape.
Netflix, the market leader in that space for the past few years, will air at least ten original series in 2014, including the second seasons of its two biggest hits, House of Cards (which already went live in February) and Orange is the New Black (expected to be released in June).
It is also planning to release a string of new shows, and one of those is getting its chief financial officer, David Wells particularly excited. Wells talked about it at a JPMorgan Chase conference in Boston this week.
Personally I’m excited about Marco Polo, which is the show that chronicles the journey of Marco Polo. It’s shot in exotic locales. There is a little bit of Kung Fu woven into it and martial arts. So it’s got the action angle, it’s got the exotic locale angle, and it’s a good–it’s got a drama angle too.
The show, which follows the 13th century Venetian explorer’s legendary journey to China, is reportedly costing $90 million to make and will be filmed in Italy, Kazakhstan and Malaysia. It is being produced for Netflix by The Weinstein Company, the production house behind hit movies like Silver Linings PlayBook, which has also had its fair share of flops and is now making a push into television.
Wells also mentioned BoJack Horseman, an animated show targeted at adults, which he described as “Family Guy at their greatest aspiration level,” as one to keep an eye on. It’s worth remembering that Wells is the chief bean counter at Netflix, and not in charge of programming, and the comments were made to investment analysts. Still, it’s interesting to hear what people are thinking inside the company.
Netflix’s subscriber growth continues to beat Wall Street’s expectations. Whether it can maintain this following a well telegraphed price hike, and amid increased competition in the streaming television market remains to be seen. As we’ve discussed, Amazon is making a big push in streaming TV, even Yahoo is getting into original comedy. So for Netflix, another original hit wouldn’t hurt.