Netflix's $8M Budget Taps Publishers for Collaboration

Now that Netflix has announced an $8 million budget for new shows in 2018, publishers are making fast moves towards getting in on the action. 

Fusion Media Group already has an existing linear TV network, but has announced a five-series co-production deal with Netflix that will go into production next month. The show, which will air on both Netflix and on FMG parent Univision’s broadcast network, is a scripted Spanish-language drama titled “Tijuana.” The two television conglomerates have partnered before, producing two seasons of the drama series “El Chapo” in 2017. 

The year before that, Netflix ordered a documentary series called “Last Chance U” from Conde Nast Entertainment. The studio and distribution network already produces their own film, television, digital video, and virtual reality, making their partnership with Netflix all the more striking. “Last Chance U”, which was renewed for a third season last summer, is just one of six shows that CNE is working on with the streaming giant. 

Vox Media is newer to the Netflix umbrella, announcing just last month its plans to make a show for Netflix with Vox co-founder Ezra Klein. The series is not yet titled, but will feature in-depth reporting around science, politics and pop culture. As per its mission statement, the publisher prides itself on going deeper, being unapologetically ambitious, and collaborating with others. Their partnership with Netflix is a solid expression of those values. Netflix said in a statement that the series "will explore a wide range of global topics and take on the big ‘why' questions that animate our age."


The collaboration is set to be a big move for Vox, and for Netflix

the streaming giant intends to expand its documentary content this year, adding Flint Town and the Vox series to such hits as Chef’s Table and Making a Murderer. 

Fusion Media Group, Conde Nast Entertainment, and Vox all have a lot to gain from partnering with Netflix. Camila Jimenez Villa, CEO of FMG Studios, says that Netflix is “a great match for us as we seek to co-produce series that are relevant to us but can transcend and resonate beyond Mexico and Latin America. This expansion of our relationship with Netflix reaffirms the value of the content we’re producing.”

Joseph LaBracio, evp of alternative programming for CNE, also weighed in on the benefits of the partnership.

“It’s important for our [intellectual property] and brand to be on Netflix,” said LaBracio, who was a longtime Hollywood agent before he joined CNE in 2014. “There are a ton of companies that make shows for a lot of cable networks, but it does not have the same sort of appeal as telling someone that you have a show on Netflix.”

Marty Moe, president of Vox Media, is hopeful that increasing the amount of long-form programming they produce will also allow them to hire more employees at the Vox Entertainment headquarters in Los Angeles. “Whether it’s making 10-minute episodes for Go90 or hourlong episodes for TV and OTT, our goal is to be a major programmer for modern video programming across all platforms,” said Moe.

In addition to their added publicity factor, Netflix’s massive budget means the production companies are sure to get paid for their work.

The streaming company often covers the full production costs of a show in exchange for total ownership of the program, meaning the production company will receive all the fees associated with their input but won’t make any syndication profit. Young companies like CNE and Vox are on board for this arrangement. 

“Because we are newer, we’re not going to be in the position to say that we are owning [the show] — that’s just not the business model of Netflix right now,” said LaBracio. “Certainly, if someone else was going to offer us the opportunity to own a piece of the show, we’d weigh that, but it’s not just happening as much anymore.”

This isn’t the deal for all of Netflix’s collaborators-- the streaming host also strikes co-production deals with major studios and media companies, co-financing shows and splitting the cost. With setups like these, Netflix usually buys out the global subscription streaming license for close to a decade, limiting the ability of the content owner to license or syndicate the program to countries that have access to the show through Netflix. The production partner, however, retains legal ownership over the show.

Whatever arrangement Netflix reaches with its publishers, the distributor is a force to be reckoned with on a number of fronts. In addition to producing its own content, Netflix is snapping up shows and movies to expand its library, which means companies like CNE and Vox can count on being included in a lot of upcoming projects through 2018 and onward.

TrendsVicki Frid