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UK producers eye Netflix collaboration

Producers will be jostling for Netflix’s attention at MipTV as the UK prepares to introduce new TV tax credits.

With Netflix’s arrival in the UK last year and the imminent introduction of a TV tax relief for high end productions, both the online service and UK producers have their eyes on potential collaborations - both co-productions and original commissions.

Speaking at an industry event in London yesterday, Kelly Merryman, Netflix’s vp of content acquisition, said the UK tax credit was on the company’s radar: “Absolutely it is. For the right show with the right incentives we’re open to going to the place that makes most sense.

“We’re always open to those conversations and we look forward to learning more about the incentives here and we’ll see if those match shows we want to work on.”

Dream package

Dan Isaacs, chief operating officer at Kudos Film and Television, producers of The Hour, Spooks and Life on Mars, described Netflix as a potential “dream package”.

“They’re very much on our radar,” he said. “We’re planning to have conversations with them at Mip, as are many producers, about potential co-productions and original commissions.

“We haven’t pitched them anything original yet but they are in now in our minds at an early stage. The next step is to develop conversations with them.”

Netflix has seen growing demand for TV on its service, with the ratio of TV-film consumption in international markets now at around 60-40, according to Merryman. That figure is around 70-30 in the US.

Original commissions are a major incentive for the service as they cut out traditional broadcasters so can be screened at the earliest stage on Netflix’s platform. The service has already launched David Fincher’s political drama series House of Cards and is set to make horror series Hemlock Grove available from April 19.

Shine chairman and Kudos co-founder Stephen Garrett told Screen: “The gap between what broadcasters can provide by way of licence fee and the cost of production is growing, so the truth is we’d be foolish not to talk to a Netflix or any new player in the market.”

UK on the radar

In a recent interview with Screen, Jonathan Ford, evp at Content Television & Digital, agreed that the changes in the UK were likely on the radars of Netflix and Amazon.

“The TV tax credit will be beneficial for all broadcasters, linear and on-demand,” he said. “I’m sure the Netflix’s and Amazon’s of the world will look to work with co-productions that can make use of those tax incentives.”

Netflix has taken exclusive rights to the international production Lillyhammer but it has yet to co-produce or commission shows out of the UK.

Global ambitions

Merryman, who makes regular work visits to the UK, was speaking at the annual British Screen Advisory Council summit in London yesterday [March 14].

The executive was among the most in-demand speakers of the day, with no shortage of questions from the industry audience who were keen to know more about the company’s business model.

Merryman said Netflix sees itself as “becoming a global service over time”.

During her presentation the executive described the company as “half way through a 20-year cycle” but later said there was no timeline for when the company would be operational in most markets.

She said the key considerations when choosing the service’s next market are always “the number of broadband households, consumers’ willingness to pay and content availability”.

Netflix user

In response to a question about the typical Netflix user, Merryman explained: “The Netflix user is generally a little younger, slightly more often male and a big broadband consumer. They often have an international credit card, a passport and travel quite a bit.

“Outside the UK and US, they are generally people who speak English. The demographic is generally users with a little more money in the household.

“The vast majority are streaming on something other than a PC. Folks prefer to be on the big screen. And the easiest way to get there is often via games consoles.”

The service boasts 33 million subscribers worldwide, with 6 million in international markets. It clocked one million subscribers in record time in the UK.

Among rival US services, Hulu has already struck deals with UK producers for content to stream in the US.

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