As Netflix increasingly positions itself as a major player across TV and film, one particular content arena has seemed to enchant its executives: the good, old-fashioned stand-up special. And as the Verge reports, the streaming service is poised to release several specials by high- and less-high-profile comedians this year, to the tune of one new special per week for the rest of 2017. It’s part of a larger scheme on Netflix’s part to double their original content and, of course, to become profitable. One reason for the focus on stand-up is just bottom line: A seemingly insane investment, like, say, $100 million for Jerry Seinfeld’s web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, is actually more affordable to produce than a high-cost scripted drama — while still being exclusive and having some cool/cachet factor. However, part of the story is also Netflix’s stated goal to become the major player in every content category. And doing that in comedy means buying up new work from the marquee names, everyone from Seinfeld to Chris Rock to Amy Schumer to Louis C.K. Big moves garner big results: Per The Verge, HBO — the former biggest player when it came to television stand-up specials — released three stand-up specials in 2016. Netflix, on the other hand, released 25. For the streamer’s sake, here’s hoping that an investment in stand-up will not only be funny business, but smart business as well.
Chris Rock. Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for iHeart