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Netflix maximizes ‘surprise drop’ strategy

Release of major comedies and concerts accelerated for competitive edge

London(08 Jul 2019)

Unique research by Ampere Analysis reveals Netflix’s adoption of a quick-release or ‘surprise drop’ marketing strategy for blockbuster unscripted A-list comedies such as Amy Schumer and Trevor Noah’s stand-up shows, and concerts such as Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ Tour. 19% of Netflix original TV shows are released within two months of their initial announcement. This approach contrasts sharply with the slow-burn release strategy for scripted drama and comedy which have an average production period of 13 months from announcing the show to its release. So, for new formats, is Netflix adopting a quick-release strategy by withholding announcements to give it an edge over its competitors and to slow down potential imitators?


Production periods by genre

  • Quickest releases are heavily focused on stand-up comedy, documentary and reality.
  • Documentary and reality series particularly dominate periods of less than two months—39% of documentaries and 64% of reality series were released less than two months after they were first announced.
  • Content in the Children & Family category has the longest production period, whether created by Netflix and a single producer, or as a co-production.
  • Crime & Thriller and Sci-Fi & Fantasy productions are very tightly grouped, each taking around a year to produce. The strongest grouping shows that 25% of crime content is released between 13-15 months after announcement—a crucial period for the genre.
Fred Black, Ampere Analyst and author of the report comments: “Netflix co-productions have a longer average creation time, taking an additional 2.8 months to craft compared to sole Netflix commissioned shows. The shortest co-production was announced 109 days before release – by this point, 39 solo Netflix productions had already been released. Drama, Documentary, Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the most co-produced genres.”


Production times for scripted versus unscripted content

  • 36% of unscripted Netflix originals were released less than two months after announcement - versus just 7% of scripted titles.
  • In comparison, over 90% of productions taking 14+ months to release are scripted.
  • Over half of Netflix scripted originals (52%) have taken longer than a year between announcement and release, compared to just 7% of unscripted titles.
  • Almost all (95%) of the slowest 19 releases were scripted (release after at least 600 days).
  • At more than two years in production, Our Planet, Netflix’s extremely high-budget, David Attenborough-narrated natural history documentary, stands out as an anomaly in the unscripted space. Magic for Humans also had a long production period.
  • Unscripted comedy takes anywhere between a surprise drop of two weeks for an Italian stand-up special from Edoardo de Carlo, to Ellen Degeneres’ long-in-the-works special Relatable which was in production for 19 months.
Fred Black, Ampere Analyst comments: “With competition heating up in the SVoD arena, Netflix is using its surprise drop strategy to foil competitors and delay them from copy-catting new content formats. But this is not a simple approach, there are huge variations in the time content takes from announcement to release, based on genre, whether it’s scripted or not and if it’s a sole or co-production.”

About Ampere Analysis
Founded in January 2015, Ampere Analysis is a new breed of media analyst firm. The company’s experienced team of sector-leading industry analysts specialises in pay and multiscreen TV and next generation content distribution. Our founders have more than 60 years’ combined experience of providing data, forecasts and consulting to the major film studios, telecoms and pay TV operators, technology companies, TV channel groups and investment banks.