Netflix is close to reaching a deal for what could be its next big original series. Called The Crown, the latest in a string of exclusive new TV shows will likely cost more than House of Cards, the series that got it started in originals.
Netflix has been investing heavily in new original content as a way to differentiate its offering from other streaming services, and it shows: Both House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black have the kind of high production values that you would expect to see on a premium cable network like HBO or Showtime.
But instead, those series premiered on Netflix, where they were streamed into people’s homes through any number of Smart TVs, streaming set-top boxes, game consoles, and tablets.
The latest original that Netflix is pursuing is a historical drama called The Crown, which is being written by screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan. Morgan is best known for his work with in that genre, as he had previously penned movies that include Frost/Nixon, The Last King Of Scotland, and The Queen.
That last credit will give him plenty of fodder for the new project, which we’ve heard follows Queen Elizabeth II over the course of various historical events during her reign. According to sources, an initial concept for the show could have different actresses portraying the Queen at different points in her life.
Our sources say the series is being produced by Sony Pictures Television, which has also produced recent shows such as Breaking Bad, Damages, and Justified.
Just as it did for House Of Cards, Netflix could commit to two seasons of the series, although that has yet to be finalized. When the company licensed House of Cards, it reportedly shelled out about $100 million to exclusive secure rights for the first two seasons of that series from production company Media Rights Capital.
From what we’ve heard, The Crown could end up costing more than House Of Cards did when Netflix struck that deal a few years ago. Part of that stems from the fact that Netflix is much bigger now than it was then, with 35 million subscribers in the U.S. and a bigger geographical footprint.
House of Cards was primarily licensed for the U.S. and a few select international markets. But as Netflix is working on deals now, it has many more countries to obtain rights for. Presumably that includes the six new European countries it announced expansion plans for later this year, including France and Germany.
For Netflix, investing in original content is expensive, but at the end of the day it provides more value than getting rights to shows that people already know and love.
After all, having exclusive access to a new show — especially one that people are clamoring to watch like HOC or OITNB — ends up being the most successful marketing that a company like Netflix can do. It gets new subscribers signed up, and it keeps them waiting for the second season, when it’s ready to be released.
Considering that Netflix has gained about 6.5 million U.S. subscribers in the year or so since the release of House of Cards (not to mention Arrested Development and Orange Is The New Black), it seems like that investment was ultimately a smart one.
When reached by email, a Netflix representative declined to comment.