orange is the new black

Netflix: ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Is Our Most-Watched Original, But Our TV Exclusives Are Even Bigger

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Earlier comments from Netflix suggested that its show “Orange Is The New Black” was a hit — specifically, the company said in July that each of its original shows had a better first week than the one before it. It expanded on that point in today’s earnings report and letter to investors:

Orange is the New Black has been a tremendous success for us. It will end the year as our most watched original series ever and, as with each of our other previously launched originals, enjoys an audience comparable with successful shows on cable and broadcast TV.

Since Netflix’s investment in original programming is relatively new (it really came to prominence this year with “House of Cards”), being the most-watched “ever” may not be a huge accomplishment, but it’s still impressive since “Orange Is The New Black” didn’t have the star power of “House of Cards” or the built-in fanbase of “Arrested Development.” What it had was positive buzz and good reviews.

It’s also interesting that Netflix says the audience is “comparable” to successful broadcast and cable TV shows, though that encompasses a broad range. (The company doesn’t release viewership numbers on specific shows.)

The letter also mentions some of Netflix’s other successes in original programming, like its Emmy wins for “House of Cards” (the first time a major primetime Emmy has gone to a program that didn’t air on broadcast TV or cable). The company sounds optimistic about the Emmy odds of “Orange Is The New Black” come next year.

Netflix also notes that even though “our original series get most of the headlines,” more viewing is driven by “exclusive complete season-after series,” i.e. TV shows where Netflix gets exclusive streaming rights once the full season has broadcast. That may not be an apples-to-apples comparison — it sounds like there are more season-after exclusives (including The New Girl, The Walking Dead, Scandal, and Breaking Bad) than there are shows that are completely original to Netflix. However, it’s a good reminder that Netflix’s business isn’t just about its original content.

In fact, while the company still says that it plans to double its investment in original content in 2014, it also says that expenditure will represent less than 10 percent of its total content spending worldwide.