Netflix eager to restart production, has enough new content for 2020

A button for launching the Netflix application is seen on a remote control in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on April 25, 2019.

Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

While streamers have benefited from the influx of consumers stuck at home, platforms like Netflix are not immune to the woes of film and TV production shutdowns.

For now, streaming platforms have been able to meet consumer demand for content, but there are fears that if production doesn’t ramp up over the next few months, there will be a noticeable lack of new shows and movies to keep viewers occupied. This could prompt customers to unsubscribe from services.  

On Thursday, the company said in its second-quarter earnings release that safely restarting its productions is a top priority for the business. Companies like Netflix have a long production lead time, meaning that its slate 2020 original shows and films shouldn’t be impacted too heavily because of a lengthy halt in production earlier in the year.

“For 2021, based on our current plan, we expect the paused productions will lead to a more second half weighted content slate in terms of our big titles, although we anticipate the total number of originals for the full year will still be higher than 2020,” the company said in a statement.

Netflix said that there is no “one-size-fits-all approach” to restarting production because it shoots its content in a number of different countries, all with their own regulations, number of coronavirus cases and testing availability.

Asia Pacific is the furthest along when it comes to production, the company said. Currently, the second season of the Japanese original series “The Naked Director” is back up and running. Productions in Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Italy, and the UK have also resumed. 

In the U.S., Netflix has resumed production on two films in California as well as two stop-motion animation projects in Oregon. The company expects to have more U.S.-based productions up and running in the third quarter, however, an increase in coronavirus cases could slow that progress. Similarly, India and parts of Latin America have been more challenging locations to restart productions.

To boost its content offerings, Netflix recently acquired the rights to Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and the global streaming rights, excluding U.S. and China, of “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run.”

It has also scooped up the first two seasons of YouTube’s “Cobra Kai,” as well as a brand new, yet unreleased, third season. 

“With our large library of thousands of titles and strong recommendations, we believe our member satisfaction will remain high,” the company said.

Netflix touted high viewership of its new comedy “Space Force,” starring Steve Carell (“The Office”), the film “Extraction” featuring Chris Hemsworth (“Avengers”) and its animated feature “The Willoughbys.” 

However, the viewership numbers provided by streaming services isn’t always a reliable way to gauge interest in a show or movie. For example, Netflix currently counts a “view” as someone who chose to watch a program for at least two minutes.

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