After COVID stalled nearly all productions last year, Netflix is expected to boost content spending on an amortized basis by a healthy 26% in 2021 to $13.6 billion — and the streamer’s budget could hit $18.9 billion by 2025, as it increasingly shifts the mix toward originals.
That’s according to the latest estimates from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan media research unit. The analyst group’s forecast of Netflix amortized spending of $13.60 billion in total content costs this year includes $5.21 billion for originals (or 38% of the total).
By comparison, Netflix’s amortized content spending was $10.81 billion in 2020 and $9.22 billion in 2019, according to Kagan. On a cash basis, Netflix has told investors it expects to spend $17 billion this year on content.
Ever since Netflix first entered the originals market in 2011, it has steadily ramped up originals spending — anticipating studios would hold back TV shows and movies for their own streaming platforms. In 2014, about 6.8% of Netflix’s spending was on originals; by 2020, that was about 37.8% of the budget, according to Kagan. And by 2015, “we expect that to grow closer to 50%,” according to the researcher. As a strategic goal, Netflix has said that it expects about half of content spending will eventually be on original programming.
Kagan predicts Netflix’s spending on originals from 2021-25 will grow at a 14% compound annual growth rate, compared with a CAGR of 4.8% for licensed content.
Because the pandemic slowed production spend, that means Netflix’s content cash and amortized spend were closer together last year than usual. Netflix expects streaming licensed and produced content to be more than 90% amortized within four years of release after its month of first availability. That, according to Kagan, creates a gap between amortized versus cash spend: Netflix’s amortized spending historically has been 63%-74% of total cash spending. With less content being produced in 2020, however, that proportion was 86%, per Kagan.
On the originals front, Netflix continues to concentrate on scripted series — like “The Crown,” which just cleaned up at the Primetime Emmy Awards and helped the company take home its biggest-ever Emmys haul — as well as “The Witcher” Season 2 and “Stranger Things” Season 4. It’s also increasingly investing in original movies, such as upcoming action-thriller “Red Notice” starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot.
In addition, Netflix has upped its focus on unscripted programming, with the number series in the category nearly doubling on the service in 2020. Netflix’s top reality shows have included “Too Hot to Handle,” “Tiger King” and “Love Is Blind.”
On the acquisition side, Netflix will also take over the Sony output deal from Starz beginning with films released next year. Netflix also has boosted spending on local content in recent years with titles like Spain’s “Money Heist,” Germany’s “Dark” and South Korea’s “Kingdom.”
Pictured above: Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in “The Crown” Season 4