What’s Next in Netflix’s Future?

Netflix logo and screen

As the undisputed kings of streaming expand their roster of original content, we look at what’s next for Netflix.

Netflix has had an excellent 2018. Their televisions series have won Emmys, they became first-time Oscar winners with the documentary Icarus, they took home major awards at the Venice Film Festival, and more importantly, millions of people marathoned their films, series, and comedy specials to much aplomb. It seems that now more than ever, people are talking about Netflix programming with true enthusiasm and anticipation. Even former cynics are finding themselves won over by their offerings. According to a recent report from CNBC, Netflix is on track to add close to 28 million new subscribers this year - that means they're adding more users in one year than HBO did in 40.

Related: 9 Movies That Helped Netflix Change the Hollywood Game

Netflix’s future seems secure but the service is not resting on its laurels. Indeed, much of what they have done in the past twelve months speaks loudly to how they plan to continue in the long-term. Their continuing expansion and domination over the competition shows a bright way forward for the first name in streaming, but how exactly will they manage it?

More Auteur Driven Content and Creative Freedom

Ryan Murphy

When it was announced in 2016 that Martin Scorsese would bring his long-awaited passion project The Irishman to Netflix, many saw it as a shocking indictment of Hollywood’s failings that a legendary auteur would have to go to a streaming service over the traditional studio system. Now, it seems like the best option possible for many filmmakers across the gamut of recognition, acclaim, and box office clout.

While the Cannes Film Festival remains stridently anti-Netflix, other major film festivals have gladly opened their doors to the streaming service thanks to the legendary and highly acclaimed directors who have become part of their brand. This year alone, two of Netflix's exclusives won top awards at the Venice Film Festival - the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Alfonso Cuaron's Roma, which is now an Oscar front-runner - while others such as Nicole Holofcener's The Land of Steady Habits and David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King made waves in Toronto. The coup of having Orson Welles’s long unfinished masterpiece The Other Side of the Wind become a Netflix exclusive only highlighted how the platform has become the auteur’s haven in ways the traditional studio system is failing to similarly accommodate.

It’s not limited to the world of film, either. Two of the biggest names in television, Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, are now Netflix exclusives. It was Murphy’s move from Fox, where he had become incredibly lucrative, to Netflix that best exemplifies why the platform has become so auteur friendly. Coverage of the news on The Hollywood Reporter noted how, with the upcoming acquisition of Fox by Disney, many feared the uncertain future of the channel and creators' abilities to have real creative control. This has been a fear for many in the film world too, as the upcoming acquisition has sparked fears of fewer movies being made and less money being set aside for smaller, more niche properties. Netflix has gone in the other direction and is making more content than ever, which obviously proves appealing to creators. It’s a message to writers, directors and show-runners made all the clearer by the presence of names like Scorsese, Cuaron, Rhimes and Murphy. For Netflix, it’s an extra jewel in their crown but also a way for them to further cement their reputations as a safe and open-minded place for creators to be free.

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