Should Netflix Rename Their “Originals”?

The phrase “Netflix Original” is something we come across on a daily basis with an average of 30-40 being added to the streaming service every month. We’ve already explained elsewhere What, Exactly, Is A Netflix Original? but now it seems to be causing even more problems. Last year before the release of “Star Trek: Discovery” we received a number of comments stating that it’s not a Netflix Original, it’s a CBS All-Access Original and questioning why we were referring to it as a Netflix Original.

Now Channel 4 television, a UK TV channel, are saying similar regarding “The End of The F***ing World”. Channel 4 content boss Ian Katz was recently quoted as saying “It really bugs me that people think that show is a Netflix show, I really want to reclaim ownership of it, it’s absolutely a Channel 4 show”. The ‘problem’ was caused by the fact that it was marketed as a “Netflix Original” – even within the UK where it aired 3 months before it arrived on Netflix.

Some shows, such as “House of Cards”, are legitimate “Originals” – commissioned by, and produced solely for, Netflix. However, in recent years more and more Netflix Originals are, in fact, co-productions between Netflix and TV studios around the globe. Examples of these include “The End of The F***ing World” (Channel 4 / Netflix), “Troy: Fall of a City” (BBC / Netflix), “Star Trek: Discovery” (CBS / Netflix), “Anne With An E” (CBC / Netflix) and many more on the way. Often, these co-productions are only available on Netflix outside of their home country.

There are also shows like SyFy’s “The Expanse” which, outside of North America and Canada, it was distributed as a Netflix Original but this show was not a co-production; Netflix just had distribution rights in many countries around the world. This then causes potential problems as rival Amazon has taken over production for season 3.

In recent months Netflix have changed how they market their movies – going from referring to a “Netflix Original Movie” to a “Netflix Film”. So for films/movies they have already dropped the word ‘Original’ which does go some way to clarify that it wasn’t necessarily created by Netflix themselves.

Is it time to drop, or at least change, how the TV series are marketed? In particular for co-productions – would “Netflix Exclusive” be a better way to describe shows such as “The End of The F***ing World” so as not to annoy the other production company that they worked with? While it would likely depend on what terms are agreed between the production companies involved and how much is financed by each party, perhaps it would help clarify things for the streaming giant’s subscribers that some shows are “Exclusives” as opposed to “Originals”.

There are many people who simply don’t care who a show is made by but, equally, there are many people who do – Channel 4’s content boss being one of them. What are your thoughts on this? Does the term “Netflix Original” cause any confusion or problems for you? Do you travel through different countries and find you’re not able to watch an “Original” show you can watch at home? Or have you reached the end of this article with a resounding ‘Meh’?! Let us know in the comments below.

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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13 thoughts on “Should Netflix Rename Their “Originals”?

  1. Maybe they should, only time it bothered me was when Netflix got the rights to Orphan Black and I was confused as to why it was claiming it was an Netflix Original when I had been watching it since it started on BBC Three, however! I looked into it and then understood it. I can see why people at channel 4 for example, are getting annoyed with their shows being advertised as another platforms creation. (This comment went on way longer than intended! Sorry!)

  2. “Original” is really not appropriate for anything other than stuff they make or commission themselves. It’s misleading and I suspect they know it. The problem though is that there’s so many variables in how TV is financed, produced and distributed that you’d need a dozen terms to cover all bases.
    For shows they have exclusive rights to stream, then A Netfllix Exclusive or similar seems fine. For co-prods, maybe A Neflix Partnership Production?

  3. I suspect another issue is that most Netflix viewers don’t see the bit at the end of the credits that tells you who made it. End of the F-ing World may well say “A Channel 4 production in assoc with Netflix” at the end but no one sees that unless you manage to hit the “view credits” option quickly enough before the next episode starts.

  4. It doesn’t actually really matter. Nobody ever went to the cinema specifically because they want to see the latest movie Universal Studios are putting on. Or are fans of Columbia Pictures and need to collect all their stuff on Blu-ray.

    People are only really noticing it because Netflix make a big deal of it, and rightly they should in their quest to become a major production company, and that some content we know existed before Netflix took it on is then called original.
    It did start when they were producing something from the ground up, so was/is original.

    1. Of course it matters, especially as the general quality of actual Netflix Originals is fairly middling to poor, so it taints by association other shows they claim are their Originals.

      Netflix are coopting and presenting ownership and production of a show or movie for which they are simply the distributor. If Odeon cinemas started claiming the same for all Disney films, it would soon come to a stop.

    2. Disney is a poor comparison. They stand alone in being seriously closely associated with their characters and all associated merchandise. They had to be to distinguish their Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc., from all the others because they’ve no exclusive rights to those old fairy tales.

      Legally, back of house, it might matter. What I’m saying is it doesn’t matter to the end consumers.

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