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Netflix is betting big on a world’s worth of children’s stories

Streaming’s reigning king introduced one of its biggest title acquisitions so far this week with its buy of the rights to Roald Dahl’s catalog of work. The deal, following regulatory approval, will give Netflix entry to a universe of beloved children’s stories to mine and place the corporate to higher compete with kid-friendly rivals like Disney Plus.

The acquisition of the trove of mental property follows a previous partnership between Netflix and the Roald Dahl Story Firm introduced in 2018 to adapt some of the late creator’s iconic titles. With entry to the total library of Dahl stories — which embrace children’s classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Manufacturing facility, James and the Large Peach, The BFG, and Matilda, amongst others — Netflix has the chance to construct a whole world from the catalog, boosting its originals draw and conserving youngsters and oldsters hooked on its service.

The deal is arguably one of probably the most important acquisitions Netflix has made in its programming in latest reminiscence, and it speaks to the significance of youngsters’ content material for the service’s continued development. The corporate introduced a huge deal with Nickelodeon for unique animated movies and sequence in 2019, a yr after the unique Dahl partnership was introduced, and it lately ordered three seasons of a Cocomelon spinoff, after initially bringing the YouTube-hit youngsters’ sequence to its service last year.

Netflix has additionally pointed towards The Willoughbys, a 2020 animated comedy the service mentioned reached almost 38 million households in its first 4 weeks, as “an instance of the extent of animated characteristic movie we’re ramping in the direction of to bolster our providing for youths and households.” With Dahl’s library, Netflix might very effectively be making its largest wager but in furthering that purpose. (Netflix didn’t specify how a lot it paid for the catalog.)

Netflix is competing in a house that’s turning into extra crowded by the day. Its apparent main competitor for children’s streaming, Disney Plus, zoomed previous the 100 million subscriptions mark by first quarter of 2021. In the meantime, HBO Max (which has the DC catalog beneath its umbrella, amongst different properties) and Apple TV Plus (which has Peanuts and Sesame Road-adjacent properties) have additionally centered their sights on children’s programming. That’s to say nothing of the sequence and movies for youths obtainable as free-to-stream titles on different companies.

In an announcement about this week’s acquisition, Netflix mentioned its current partnership with the Dahl group “opened our eyes to a rather more bold enterprise — the creation of a distinctive universe throughout animated and dwell motion movies and TV, publishing, video games, immersive experiences, dwell theatre, client merchandise and extra.”

The “extra” in Netflix’s assertion definitely speaks to the corporate’s indication that it’s thinking about persevering with to construct out franchises and fan communities, most lately with its big bet on gaming. Not like different streamers which have primarily centered on acquiring legacy studios for mountains of cash as a means of swooping up helpful IP, Netflix has been way more conservative about its investments — underscoring how helpful Netflix sees the Dahl IP as being.

“The business has consolidated materially through the years […] and we don’t imagine this consolidation has affected our development a lot, if in any respect,” the corporate wrote in a letter to shareholders mere months in the past in July. “Whereas we’re frequently evaluating alternatives, we don’t view any property as ‘must-have’ and we haven’t but discovered any giant scale ones to be sufficiently compelling to behave upon.”

There’s little question that Netflix minimize a very sizable test for Dahl’s books, with which Netflix might even be capable of broaden past children’s stories if reimagined for older audiences. However at the same time as Netflix sidesteps the studio bidding wars, it’s confirmed that it is keen to pay handsomely when the chance — on this case, a world’s worth of children’s stories — is proper.

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