Netflix’s Adam Sandler Deal: A Push for International Success

While Twitter had some humorous reactions to the news last week that Netflix had signed Adam Sandler & his Happy Madison production company for four exclusive movies, the deal may just be a major boon for the streaming content company. 

Judging by the revenue for Sandler’s last film (the poorly-received Blended), this agreement has little to do with Netflix’s US business– and, likely, everything to do with international growth.

While Netflix is a powerhouse domestically (‘Merica accounts for 3/4 of their nearly 50 million subscribers), their overseas business has yet to take off. With the US only accounting for 20% of the world’s Internet users, there’s a lot of eyeballs with broadband access not yet tuned-in.

So how does Adam Sandler help Netflix internationally??

One key advantage the company has over offline production houses is data– a boatload of it. Netflix knows how often people watch Billy Madison and where exactly they’re viewing it each time. It stands to reason (though the company didn’t outright say it) that Netflix has sufficient data to point to interest, internationally at the very least, in new Sandler comedies. If they’re the only place to get ’em, subscriptions will grow, right?!

I’m sure that’s what the company hopes. While Sandler’s appeal may have faded in the US recently, his films have grossed over $3 billion globally, and comedies are substantially easier to market worldwide than, say, thrillers or RomComs (unless you’re Titanic. But’s what else is Titanic, really?!?). Netflix can go ahead and take all that data it has and figure out just what kind of movies Happy Madison should produce. Do monkey-sidekick buddy-cop films work in Europe? Is Asia pining for a ‘doofus accidentally gets on a space shuttle’ flick? Netflix knows, and can help craft their new star’s next four movies based off what’s popular.

It’s a brilliant display of Big Data in action (even if I don’t personally agree with Sandler as the choice); and, should it be successful (how ever that is defined), Netflix may just have found its potential advantage over HBO– knowing which users in which areas will respond best to what content.

We’ll just have to see what Netflix, and more importantly, Sandler, can put together the next few years. While there’s no timeline yet for any of these four films, comedy’s other advantage over some genres is less post-production time– so, we may just see the first Netflix-exclusive premiere in the next year.

What do you think of the Netflix & Adam Sandler arrangement? Is it going to be a success like House of Cards, or flop like, well, many of Sandler’s films the last 10 years have??

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