Netflix made history yesterday. In a move that shows the service makes no bones about spending big and taking risks, Netflix purchased the streaming rights for the popular new NBC show and James Spader vehicle, The Blacklist, for a whopping $2 million per episode, or around 44 million big ones per season. As Deadline reports, it is thought to be the largest subscription video-on-demand deal for a TV series ever.
The Blacklist went big for NBC last year, which is surprising considering … well, it’s NBC. The show reportedly garnered around 12 million viewers per episode, and it appeared Netflix liked those numbers enough to throw down some major cash. According to the Deadline report, Netflix will have “the first window” to show the Sony Pictures TV-produced series exclusively, before episodes are shopped to cable and broadcast networks for syndication. The series is slated for release on Netflix next weekend.
To give you some idea about where that multi-million dollar number sits in Netflix’s regular spending, the company will spend about $3 billion on content in total in 2014, and $6 billion over the next three years, according to a report by The Guardian.
The company also made headlines a few months back for its option to essentially take out a $400 million loan to build-out its services overseas, and focus on creating original content, from a five series Marvel deal, to a Pablo Escobar biography called Narco.
Netflix has always been willing to gamble. While it seems like the company has extremely deep pockets, keep in mind that, although it has billions of dollars to play with, Netflix sits on the razor’s edge of profitability. The Guardian report shows the service earned around $112 million in net profits from 2013, compared with $7.3 billion in future “content obligations.”
The $2 million per episode Netflix is spending on The Blacklist may seem like a pittance in comparison to its larger content deals, but the exclusive new agreement for a single series marks a different tack for the service/network, which has built its foundation around doing just that. Whether it’s resurrecting shows like Arrested Development and The Killing, building out originals like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, or spending billions of dollars back in 2010 for its crazy gamble on video streaming in the first place, if there’s one thing we can always predict, it’s Netflix’s unpredictability.