Netflix Signals Increase in Spending on Licensed Titles Following ‘Suits’ Explosion

The USA series broke viewing records once it hit the streamer in July

USA Network

Call it the “Suits” effect. After the gargantuan performance of the USA series following its debut on Netflix in July, the streamer signaled on Wednesday that it may be increasing its licensed content in the near future.

“As the competitive environment evolves, we may have increased opportunities to license more hit titles to complement our original programming,” Netflix said in its third quarter earnings statement. “We believe this will deliver additional value for our members (i.e., engagement), as well as for rights holders who benefit from the increased awareness and revenue that Netflix delivers, in addition to the new life that success on Netflix can drive.”

The streamer cited “Friends” and “The Office” — two titles it no longer holds the license to — as other examples of licensed shows that drive success on Netflix.

“Licensing third-party content always been part of our strategy, and we’ve been really great at being able to match that audience,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos added during the company’s third quarter earnings call, pointing to the historic streaming success of “Suits.” “This continues to be important for us to add a lot of breadth of storytelling. Our consumers have a wide range of tastes, and we can’t make everything, but we can help you find just about anything. That’s really the strength.”

Though “Suits” had been streaming on other streaming services, including Peacock, the USA Network drama’s release of the first eight seasons on Netflix led to renewed interest and record-shattering viewership of the summer. The legal drama is now the twice-over most-streamed acquired program, and spent more time as No. 1 on Nielsen’s top 10 streaming programs list than any other title at 12 weeks.

“Suits” centers on lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and his associate Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), whose legal prowess and photographic memory give him the chance to prove himself as a lawyer — despite not having a law degree himself.

The previous title to hold the latter record was Netflix’s “Ozark,” which occupied the No. 1 spot for 11 weeks. The streamer’s “You” and “Stranger Things” are also on the list, having occupied the top spot for eight weeks, along with “The Office,” “Cobra Kai” and “Manifest,” which occupied the top spot for seven weeks each.

Following the show’s streaming success on “Suits,” NBCUniversal enlisted series creator Aaron Korsch to develop a new show set in that world. The show is set to take the approach of “NCIS” and “CSI,” basing the spin-off in a new city and featuring a new set of characters.

Last week, Korsh reacted to the new Nielsen record, tweeting, “I always thought we were underestimated, but it turns out, even I underestimated #Suits. It’s good to be the King.”


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