In December 2015, Netflix said its 2016 slate would more than double its output of original programming from 15 shows to 31. One year later, Netflix now counts 30 original shows within its library, but the subscription-video on-demand platform isn’t stopping there. Its Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, announced during the BS Global Media & Communications Conference in New York that Netflix will once again double its output in 2017, bringing its total number of original programs above 60.
While Netflix’s upcoming slate will include plenty of feature films, new scripted shows, and returning hits, the company is putting a particular emphasis on unscripted content. Variety notes that the SVOD platform plans to release 20 unscripted programs in 2017, with Sarandos calling that format a “very interesting business.”
There are two major reasons why Netflix is interested in unscripted content. For one, according to Sarandos, those shows can more easily connect with overseas audiences. The Netflix CCO specifically noted Ultimate Beastmaster, an upcoming competition series produced by Sylvester Stallone, as the sort of series that could play well both in the United States and in South Korea. Given that Netflix’s high market saturation within the U.S. has caused it to turn more of its efforts toward the world at large, shows that can appeal to multiple regions are a priority.
The other reason, even if Sarandos didn’t spell it out exactly, is that unscripted shows are generally cheaper to produce than their scripted cousins. The evidence of that fact can be seen in Netflix’s proposed original content budget for 2017. Despite the fact that it plans to double the number of shows it distributes, it only plans to raise its budget by about 20%, from $5 billion to $6 billion.
30 shows in a single year may seem like a daunting task, but Netflix thinks it could even surpass that number. As Sarandos said, “that’s a conservative measure right now.”