After rewriting the business model first for film distribution, then for scripted television, Netflix is now flexing its muscles in another genre: stand-up comedy.
According to an in-depth report in The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming service is “contributing to a growing arms race to land top comics in the increasingly competitive world of stand-up specials. By year’s end, Netflix, which debuted John Mulaney’s ‘The Comeback Kid’ on Nov. 13, will have released 18 original stand-up specials, with comics including Aziz Ansari, Chris Tucker and Chelsea Peretti.”
With Netflix driving the market, other outlets, such as Amazon, Vimeo and the upcoming NBCUniversal OTT service Seeso, are also getting involved. One big reason, according to the report, is that the programming is inexpensive to produce.
“With the exception of porn, there’s nothing cheaper to do,” says Brian Volk-Weiss, whose company Comedy Dynamics produces comedy specials. THR says the company “has produced 40-plus specials this year, nearly doubling its output from two years ago.
Adds Volk-Weiss: “We’ve been selling specials since 2007, and for the first five years or so, the buck slip I have taped to my desk said Comedy Central, Showtime and HBO. Now, it says Netflix, Comedy Central, Epix, Showtime, HBO, Seeso, Amazon, Vimeo and a few others.”
THR notes that the comics themselves are also enjoying boom times.
“According to one industry veteran, roughly 80 percent of comics are making between $50,000 and $500,000 for an hourlong special; 15 percent make between $500,000 and $2 million; 4 percent make between $2 million and $6 million; and 1 percent (think: Kevin Hart) make more than $6 million,” the story reports.
Please click on the link near the top of this story to read THR’s full report.