What, Exactly, Is A Netflix Original?

The term “Netflix Original” has been used for a number of years now ever since “House of Cards”, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, launched way back in February 2013. However, the term “Netflix Original” has a number of meanings that have sometimes caused confusion for users around the world discussing Netflix shows in online forums and across social media.

Initially a Netflix Original was funded and owned by Netflix and only available on Netflix around the world – but even that isn’t completely accurate. Netflix wasn’t available in Australia and New Zealand until 2015 or in India until 2016 so “House of Cards” was sold to TV networks in those countries. So even the very first Netflix Original wasn’t only available on Netflix. It gets more complex too.

Funding and Ordering of Netflix Original Series

The phrase “A Netflix Original Series” leads most people to believe that Netflix have been involved in the creation from day one but this isn’t always the case. Series such as “Love”, “Santa Clarita Diet” and “Dear White People” are examples of series that Netflix ordered and funded. Others, such as “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Master of None” were created and then later sold to Netflix. One thing that makes the Netflix Original series so great and wide-ranging is the fact that they are happy to give directors and showrunners free-reign over their series. Stories are told how the writers want them told without having to cut out parts to fit a tight 45 minute TV schedule

Weekly Episodes

In Summer 2013 UK Netflix aired the final episodes of “Breaking Bad” on a weekly basis, just a few hours after they aired on AMC in America. These ‘weekly episodes’ are now a regular thing on Netflix around the world and, while “Breaking Bad” is the exception, these are also referred to as “Netflix Originals”. These Netflix Originals aren’t necessarily funded or commissioned by Netflix themselves so a better way to describe them would be “Netflix Exclusives”.

They are, however, still called Netflix Originals and this is where problems start. The internet is a huge place with billions of people from hundreds of different countries all having access to the same news stories and media. One fairly recent example is “Star Trek: Discovery” – on our news post sharing the teaser trailer one of the comments said that it wasn’t a Netflix Original as it’s being aired on CBS (USA) and SPACE (Canada). However, throughout the rest of the world it is being aired weekly as a Netflix Original; another example where “Netflix Exclusive” would be a better descriptive name.

Other weekly series that have aired on normal TV services across the globe but have been added weekly in certain countries as Netflix Originals include “Reign”, “Pretty Little Liars”, “Riverdale”, “Better Call Saul”, “Man to Man”, “The 100”, “iZombie”, “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”, “Jane The Virgin” and “Shadow Hunters”. What weekly Netflix Originals you receive will depend on your country but, in general, the US service tends not to get as many weekly Originals as the rest of the world.

How can I see what weekly Originals my country receives?

Easy! Just head to the following pages on the New On Netflix main websites:

Weekly Netflix Originals on Netflix UK
Weekly Netflix Originals on Netflix USA
Weekly Netflix Originals on Netflix Canada
Weekly Netflix Originals on Netflix Australia

Netflix Original Movies/Films

So far we’ve only discussed Netflix Original TV series but since October 2015 Netflix have also released many Netflix Original Movies. The first of these was “Beasts of No Nation” but Netflix didn’t commission, or film or otherwise have anything to do with the making of the film. They simply bought the rights to be the sole distributor of the film (aside from some limited cinema releases). Again, Netflix Exclusive is a better name than Netflix Original. Other Netflix Original films include “The Fundamentals of Caring“, “Sandy Wexler“, “I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore” and “In The Shadow of Iris“.

Other Netflix Originals

As well as movies and weekly TV series, there are also a lot of stand-up comedy specials that are only available on Netflix. Comedians such as Bill Burr, Aziz Ansari, David Cross, Louis CK and Katherine Ryan have numerous Netflix Original Comedy Specials. Some of these are better described as Netflix Exclusives while a good number were commissioned by Netflix themselves (a few comedians mention in the show that they are filming a special for Netflix).

There are also a number of Netflix Original documentaries such as “Making a Murderer“, “Amanda Knox”, “The Square”, “Tig” and “The White Helmets”.

In Conclusion

While Netflix do commission and fund a number of Netflix Originals themselves, the majority are simply Netflix Exclusives. Over the years Netflix have been developing into, not only a streaming media giant, but also one of the biggest film and TV distributors in the world; regularly snapping up films at festivals like Sundance but also upsetting traditional cinema aficionado’s like the controversy at Cannes.

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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