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Netflix's talkshow gamble with Chelsea Handler

Netflix’s talkshow gamble with Chelsea Handler

| On 19, Jun 2014

Late night TV on a streaming service. Netflix continues its transformation from rental provider to a new definition of network for the 21st century. Chelsea Handler has just signed a multi-year deal with online service that includes a new one-hour standup (fall 2014), four new “docu-comedy” specials (2015), and a late night talk show (2016) similar to the one she is leaving behind on the E! Network in August.

This is a first for the on-demand streaming service. In addition to their massive rotating library of film, TV series, documentaries, kid videos and music concerts, Netflix has been very successful with original online programming that debuts an entire season on one day, giving viewers the opportunity to binge on several episodes at once instead of waiting an entire season for the climatic finale. Shows such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have proven this model works, enough for Marvel and Walt Disney to stream exclusive episodes online.

The talk show’s format was not made available, but Netflix stated the shows would be “updated” on a regular basis to keep Chelsea’s opinion relevant for today’s segmented audience.

Late night programs including Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have online views in the millions within 24 hours of network air date, but that usually is limited to shorter clips and not the entire episode. We can only speculate on Netflix’s Chelsea format, but you can bet it will not be the usual 30-60 minute (sans commercials) of late night today.

The millennial generation is the “easily distracted” generation, which explains why more people watch shorter online clips than the original program. I predict Netflix and Chelsea is betting on this model, therefore will give viewers the option to watch an entire episode or make short clips available for quick viewing.  

Handler herself stated: “If I was going to continue working in this industry, I knew I had to do something outside the box to keep myself interested. If I was going to continue working in this industry, I knew I had to do something outside the box to keep myself interested. I wanted to sit with the cool kids at lunch so I approached Netflix to make sure they were as cool as I thought they were, and when I confirmed my suspicions, like with any other future lover, I made my move.”

The cool kids she speaks of is the time-shifting millennia, the core demographic of her 500,000+ regular watchers on E! Chelsea Handler can become the streaming media equivalent to late night TV’s Steve Allen or a forgotten casualty online’s nascent period.

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