Netflix Threatens U.K. TV’s Home Advantage With Production Drive
Netflix Inc. signage is seen on a laptop computer. (Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)  

Netflix Threatens U.K. TV’s Home Advantage With Production Drive

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(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. plans to grow its international subscriber base by creating shows that will resonate with local audiences. In Britain, this amounts to a new phase in the war for viewers.

The U.S. streaming giant is planning a major production drive in the U.K. to come up with local content that can help it win more subscribers. This threatens the market share of rivals like ITV Plc and the British Broadcasting Corp. by encroaching on their dominant role in regional productions. The pledge comes as the pair are preparing to launch their own ‘Best of British’ subscription-video-on-demand service, BritBox.

“We’re going to see a very large increase in how much content is produced here,” Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said at the British industry’s main annual gathering, the Royal Television Society’s media convention in Cambridge, England. “That presents a lot of opportunities and a lot of challenges in terms of capacity, training and development.”

Netflix has already spent about 400 million pounds ($501 million) on U.K. programming in 2019, Hastings said, and has set up a production hub at the historic Shepperton Studios. The company doesn’t intend to buy British production firms, instead planning to work with them on a case-by-case basis, Hastings said. Netflix’s top British shows to-date include ‘The Crown’ and ‘Sex Education’.

The extra U.K. investment by Netflix is also a threat to domestic rivals because it will further inflate production costs, which have been rising due to limited supplies of space, talent and technical crew.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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