July 20, 2018
Streaming video giant Netflix is making a move into satellite radio by launching a commercial-free comedy channel with satellite-radio broadcaster SiriusXM. The two are partnering on a new radio channel dubbed “Netflix Is a Joke Radio” that will draw content from Netflix’s growing library of comedy programs. Netflix also plans to produce original content. The channel will serve as a promotional tool for Netflix’s stand-up specials and ideally drive some of SiriusXM’s 33 million subscribers to the streaming video service. The channel is expected to launch in January 2019.
The deal “marks the first time Netflix has moved beyond video and partnered with another distribution platform to create a Netflix-branded product,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The push beyond its own platform comes as Netflix faces increased competition from its rivals.”
Hulu and Amazon “are both investing more in content,” and “Disney is also launching its own direct-to-consumer service to compete with Netflix.”
Netflix has been investing heavily in comedy, paying higher than average fees to attract top comedians such as Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer. Netflix has lured David Letterman, Norm Macdonald and Joel McHale to its platform, while also producing content with rising talent such as Michelle Wolf.
“Exclusive non-music content is another way for SiriusXM to differentiate itself from rivals such as Spotify,” suggests WSJ. “The Netflix channel joins an already large comedy presence on the SiriusXM dial,” including top names such as Comedy Central and Kevin Hart. SiriusXM currently “has six channels devoted to stand-up.”
Satellite radio is not the only audio interest for Netflix. According to Fast Company, the company “has also been flirting with podcasts, launching a companion series to its ‘Wormwood’ docuseries in December 2017 and then last spring, it created its first ongoing podcast, ‘You Can’t Make This Up,’ which is devoted to helping Netflix subscribers discover nonfiction programming on the service.”