In a huge boost for the British entertainment industry, Netflix is set to expand its UK and European original productions and documentary programming with a new commissioning branch to be opened near Oxford Circus in the heart of London, making it only the second country outside the US to have such an office.
The operation, to be in part headed by former Canal+ documentary head and dual French-American national Diego Buñuel, will focus mainly on original productions in an effort to better serve British and European audiences. This will give the United Kingdom a higher “world standing” in the realm of streaming and content creation. Along with the possibility of a separate post-production facility elsewhere in the country, this has created a buzz of excitement about the future prospect of opportunities within the sector.
Being only the third country after the USA and Canada for Netflix to open a creative hub, this could be a sign of things to come from the streaming giant. The company is looking at localising its content production to appeal to as many pundits as possible and local production companies will be eyeing the move with high hopes. The move into Canada last year came with a massive $500m in funding over five years and the UK should expect much the same, if not more.
To put that number in perspective, the Arts Council England has just set out a budget of £622m over the next five years, making the Netflix move a positive one for new business partnerships and co-productions.
The announcement further bolsters the strong UK entertainment export business, which last year cracked $1 billion (£902m) for the third year running and included a strong boost from digital sales to SVoD platforms, totalling £225m. This move signifies the confidence that Netflix has in the British entertainment sector, even amid the uncertainty plaguing businesses in the UK and Europe in regards to Brexit, signalling that although suggested otherwise, British content may be the focus.
Finer details are still to come, but we do know the new division is set for launch some time in September and we look forward to hearing more.