Netflix is increasingly looking to target a teen audience with its latest content deals.
The streaming giant has made no secret of its efforts to woo younger eyeballs, from a deal with DreamWorks for a string of original animated series to reboots of shows such as Richie Rich, Danger Mouse and The Magic School Bus.
For parents, the ability to show their kids programmes without adverts is an attractive proposition. But what about the audience in between the two groups? Teens are no strangers to streaming, spending a growing amount of time on YouTube instead of linear TV, a trend that has led to the rise of star vloggers.
Traditional media is gradually reacting to that by trying to get a piece of the teen viewing pie: YouTube stars have appeared on the BBC, published their own books and been commissioned to make feature films to release in cinemas.
Now, Netflix is making a move on the valuable generation. The New York Times reports that it has snapped up Smosh: The Movie, a movie from the popular YouTube stars, as well as Bad Night, which stars vloggers Jenn McAllister and Lauren Luthringshausen. The agreements follow deals for Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, both of which now premiere in the UK on the subscription VOD service, and the launch last month of original series Project MC2 (pictured). Earlier this year, it revived both Degrassi: Next Class (a Canadian show) and Fuller House (a sitcom from the 1990s) with an eye to appeal to a similar audience.
The problem, though, is that teens are traditionally quite fickle in their tastes: celebrities and fashion are temporary, meaning that the vloggers of today may not be big crowd-pullers in several years’ time. MTV, notes the Times, has seen its ratings drop 17 per cent in the three months to June 2015, compared to the same period in 2014.
“We want shows or movies that a particular demographic is going to love,” Erik Barmack, Netflix’s VP for global independent content, told the paper. “It is not a one-size-fits-all thing.”
Indeed, the site has based its business on big data, using algorithms to personalise recommendations of programmes and films to users. The deals, then, are only the starting point: the Netflix engine then finds the teens to watch it.
“Our goal is to have content that is as broad as the human experience,” added Barmack, saying that the company is aiming to offer “a little bit of everything”.