Netflix put out 17 comedy specials this quarter, and Dave Chappelle's was its most-watched of all time
Netflix "stepped up" its investment in comedy by releasing a whopping 17 stand-up comedy specials this quarter, including a pair by Chappelle.
"Early results are promising," Netflix wrote in a letter to shareholders Monday. "The triumphant return of a comedy legend in Dave Chappelle: Collection 1 was our most viewed comedy special ever. We are also finding this to be true in international markets as well, with comedian Gad Elmaleh's Gad Gone Wild, a breakout hit in France last quarter."
Why is Netflix going after comedy so aggressively?
"There's always been an interest in stand-up comedy," Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said on the earnings call Monday. "It was actually back in our early original content days and the red envelope entertainment, it's all we did was produce original stand-up comedy and acquired documentaries and foreign language films. Always had good luck with it, just on a very small scale. And the format lends itself really well to what we're doing … it's uncensored, it's commercial free, and that allows for a lot of creative freedom. And the fan base for these folks is very big."
Chappelle's return to stand-up was a "big event in the culture," according to Sarandos. He said that if Netflix picks the right specials and invests in them properly, they can draw "series level and movie level of viewing … So we're thrilled with this so far."
In short: Expect many more comedy specials in Netflix's future.