Netflix picks up NBC’s The Blacklist for record amount
James R | On 02, Sep 2014
Netflix has snapped up The Blacklist for a record amount of money.
The US series follows a wanted FBI fugitive (played by James Spader), who agrees to help the bureau to get rid of certain criminals and terrorists on his own blacklist. It swiftly became a big hit with audiences following its premiere in September last year.
The price to tap into that success? $2 million… per episode.
Exclusive content has become one of the central drivers of growth for VOD platforms, with Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video (and, in the US, Hulu) all competing to bag the first dibs on hot new stuff. Indeed, it was Sony Pictures TV (who own the rights to The Blacklist) who gave Netflix its biggest boost after agreeing a deal for Breaking Bad – a move that not only saw the streaming company’s popularity soar in the UK but also helped to establish the trend of binge-viewing.
In the past year, Amazon has stepped up its activity – and, more importantly, funding. It secured a deal with CBS for Under the Dome, which gave the subscription VOD service each episode four days after its broadcast – which CBS CEO Leslie Moonves pegs at around $700,000 per episode.
But exclusive VOD deals are also helping to drive the TV industry overall. The Under the Dome price tag paid off for Amazon, delivering their most-watched series of the summer, but the fee also helped CBS with the cost of each episode, which require $3 million apiece to produce.
The amount of Amazon’s deal with CBS for new sci-fi Extant, has not been revealed, although the production cost is thought to be higher than Under the Dome.
Nonetheless, the competition is rising – and, as a result, so are bidding wars, with Netflix losing out on the Extant rights to Amazon.
Which brings us to The Blacklist, a deal announced by Deadline. The staggering sum is the highest per-episode fee ever paid by a subscription VOD service for a show – $2 million easily eclipses Under the Dome’s $700k – and takes the total cost for the Sony Pictures TV programme to $44 million.
Sony TV still has the rights, though, to sell the series to broadcast and cable networks for syndication. NBC’s successful run of the first season has already led to the green light for a second season of another 22 episodes.
We are currently waiting for Netflix to confirm whether The Blacklist will be available in the UK as well as in the US – where the show is thought to premiere this coming weekend – but one thing is certain: the phrase “another 22 episodes” suddenly sounds a lot more expensive.
With VOD services increasingly competing for exclusive content, how long will it be until The Blacklist’s record is broken?