Netflix has reportedly spent $90 million on its original series Marco Polo, putting it right alongside Game of Thrones as the most expensive TV series ever produced. The epic series is based on the European explorer’s journey into China. Polo’s story has a lot in common with Netflix’s ambitions to grow its global audience particularly in Asia.
Netflix’s growth in the U.S. is slowing. And the potential for new subscribers is now outside the U.S. Marco Polo is a very expensive example of how Netflix is thinking about development.
“They’ve got to make sure that the content they have plays in as many territories as possible,” says Andrew Wallenstein, co-editor in chief at Variety.
Marco Polo needs to create a big buzz. That could convince foreigners to sign up for a Netflix subscription.
But, says Media analyst Max Dawson, Netflix also has to keep those subscribers month after month: “One way of doing that is by investing in content that will be exclusive to the platform.”
For Netflix’s original series, that hasn’t always been the case. Even though it owned and created the hit show House of Cards, Netflix didn’t own the international rights, and the series aired on competing networks internationally. But with Marco Polo, Netflix owns all the international rights. Dawson thinks the $90 million investment could pay off.
“Or it could be rejected by global viewers who see it for what it is: content being dictated by a corporations’ global expansionist ambitions,” says Dawson.
The series will be available for worldwide binging on December 12th.