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Netflix promises a new movie every week. Can it afford that?

Jasmine Garsd Jan 13, 2021
Heard on: Marketplace
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Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Netflix promises a new movie every week. Can it afford that?

Jasmine Garsd Jan 13, 2021
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Start popping the popcorn. Netflix has announced its 2021 strategy, saying it plans to release a new movie every week.

Some will be Netflix originals, some acquisitions.

That’s a lot of movie premieres, and with basic subscriptions starting at $9 a month, some industry insiders are wondering whether it’s an overly ambitious strategy for the streaming giant.

One reason the competition in streaming has heated up intensely in the last month was the debut of “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max at the same time the movie opened in theaters. With that release, Warner Bros. announced it would premiere all of its films on HBO Max this year.

Marketing professor Arun Sharma, at the University of Miami, said: “The competition has become very intense, predominantly through what HBO Max is doing and the success of certain series, such as “The Mandalorian,” on Disney.”

So, Netflix is starting the year with a weapon of its own or, rather, 52 of them. It promises to premiere a new movie every week. Big-name actors and directors. Drama, action, comedy. 

Jason Squire, editor of “The Movie Business Book,” said he thinks it’s a brilliant move because “Netflix is already a movie studio. Their budgets are often higher for theatrical than studios’. They have the cash, they have the ability, they are a studio.”

But others question where all that cash is coming from. Tim Hanlon, media analyst and founder and CEO of the Vertere Group consultants, said, “Netflix has a ton of debt right now.”

Hanlon wonders whether Netflix’s strategy is sustainable. The platform is rumored to be spending $19 billion on content this year. 

He said, “The question is can they keep spending at that rate? For now, the stock market and Wall Street doesn’t seem to be too concerned in the near term. We’ll see in the long term.”

Netflix did not respond to Marketplace’s request for an interview. But with people around the world still stuck at home during the pandemic and other platforms getting blockbuster deals, it seems Netflix can’t afford not to up the ante.

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