Netflix crowning glory and the power of investment

Posted: Tuesday, 26 November 2019 @ 12:05

This month Netflix launched the much anticipated season three of The Crown. It’s a long way from the days of having to wait to see an episode a week of a favourite TV show. Now, all 10 episodes land in one go. So the important question is, have you watched it all yet?

Very much of the ‘speculate to accumulate’ model of business, figures abound as to the astronomical costs of this beautifully put together series.  The height of a new breed of TV show, it’s estimated that it costs between $6.5m and $13m per hour-long instalment (filmed at our very own Elstree Studios in Borehamwood), and prompting the question - does it cost more than the Queen herself?

Investing in evolution

Of course, numbers at Netflix, in general, are pretty mind boggling. What started as a rent-by-mail DVD service in 1997, had an about turn in 2010 when it was quick to recognise the shift in consumer behaviour and changed to the streaming model that we know and love today. Of course, it now faces stiff opposition from all those who were slow off the mark but have the budgets to give it a run for its money, namely Disney and Apple.

They don’t seem that worried though. Revenue has risen a reported 22.2% year on year, its services constitute around 15% of the world's internet bandwidth and it has over 151 million paid subscribers and counting in over 190 countries around the world.

The knock on effect of success

Meanwhile, the monarchy has arguably received a welcome popularity boost, and a glamorous new perspective seems to reign. Articles abound about how the series has changed the way we see this British institution. The Queen herself, at the age of 93, is now arguably the most popular member of the Royal Family. She has been described as an ‘ultimate feminist’, features in endless lists along the lines of ’25 Reasons Why We Love the Queen’, her outfits are being eagerly dissected by a new generation and she is being newly celebrated for the eternal stoicism that hasn’t always been in vogue.

It’s not the only British series to have made waves through Netflix investment. As a result, the content oligarch has committed to a further £400m investment in British television programmes - a budget second only to that of the US in size. That’s having already established a production hub at Pinewood’s Shepperton Studios outside London, where Mary Poppins Returns was shot, and with CEO and founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings, confidently professing that “some day The Crown will look like a bargain” because of the opportunity that this kind of investment presents.

So, as we settle into either 10 days of measured watching or a weekend of heady binge viewing, it’s wonderful to see the enduring value of what can be made in and about the UK. Illustrated so beautifully by the Hollywood gloss and investment put into the image of the most British of British institutions, it shows the extraordinary power, that the right funding and a strong vision can achieve. Long live The Crown.

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