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From Sketch Comedy to BDSM, Netflix Burrows Into Every Niche It Can Find


Added 04-23-19 11:06:02am EST - “The company is no longer in the business of Prestige TV?"at least, not single-mindedly.” - Wired.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Wired.com: “From Sketch Comedy to BDSM, Netflix Burrows Into Every Niche It Can Find”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The opening moments of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson come as little surprise to sketch fans. An alum of Saturday Night Live and co-creator of Comedy Central's under-appreciated Detroiters, Robinson specializes in characters who are Unable to Let Things Go, and here, that thing is a door: After nailing a job interview in a cafe, he tries to pull the door open on his way out, only for the interviewer to tell him it's a push door. Instead of just pushing—you know, like a human might—Robinson insists it opens in both directions, then slowly forces the door toward himself, breaking the hinges, drooling with effort, and maintaining defiant eye contact with the interviewer. It's both funny and deeply offputting, a tension that perfectly distills both Robinson's sensibility and the show's.

I Think You Should Leave, which lands on Netflix today, is not what the entertainment world thinks of as a four-quadrant show. It's not even a one-quadrant show. This is a show that uses the term "mud pies" scatalogically … in multiple sketches ... in its first episode. To think of it in terms of broad appeal, though, misses the point of Robinson's tactics—and of Netflix's continuing proliferation. Tentpoles are so 2017; these days, growth will come from the niches, the small patches of ground left among the tents.

Not that long ago, Netflix found its footing in cachet. Snagging David Fincher to direct House of Cards and resuscitating beloved sitcom Arrested Development signaled that the DVD-mailing service had finally figured out how to make original shows people wanted to watch. Coming as it did on the heels of a decade that had introduced "prestige TV," Netflix's transition to full-blown network sparked a creative and critical surge. House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black won Emmys; Hulu and Amazon, its first streaming competitors, sped to keep up.

Six years have passed since that initial transformation. Netflix's spending, sustained and astronomical, has become a yardstick by which streaming upstarts are measured—fairly or unfairly. More than $8 billion in 2017, more than $10 billion last year, and a projected $13 billion in 2019. By contrast, Amazon is spending less than half that, and Apple's investment in its own Apple TV+ originals amounts to about $2 billion, a number Disney might not surpass for its own Disney+ platform for a few years yet.

Netflix's profligacy isn't meant to win the race to streaming supremacy; it's meant to cancel the race, to open up a gap insurmountable enough to invoke the mercy rule. The more programming it can generate, the more global viewers it can ensnare, the more it becomes the default first line in a person's streaming budget—with its competitors scrambling to fight among themselves to pick up the rest. That's exactly why Disney+ recently announced monthly pricing at $6.99, why Hulu dropped its base plan to $5.99, and why CBS All Access thinks of itself as a complementary service rather than one trying to replace Netflix.

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