Netflix, the big video streaming company, is launching a comedy channel on SiriusXM, the big satellite radio company.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news. According to reports, the channel will serve listeners excerpts and highlights from Netflix’s robust (and spendy!) stand-up comedy products, along with some original material from the comedians that have produced specials for the streaming service. In other words, the SiriusXM channel is a big, fat marketing vessel for Netflix — a branded station, if you will. The channel is scheduled to launch in January 2019.
(Curious: I’d argue that the visual component of stand-up comedy specials is, ultimately, a purely optional layer to the comedy consumption experience. As such, won’t broadcasting the core element of the product over SiriusXM’s platform be somewhat counter-intuitive if the goal here is to attract people down the Netflix subscription funnel? Which is to say: if I had a SiriusXM subscription and generally listened to Dave Chappelle’s latest specials over my car dashboard, would my comedy hunger pangs really lead to me end up subscribing to Netflix? Hmm.)
Variety noted that this is the first time Netflix “has worked with an outside subscription-media provider to create a Netflix-branded product.” That’s true. Other outlets noted that this is the first time the streaming service is producing media outside of its video programming. That’s… not necessarily true. Recall that Netflix has already commissioned a number of branded companion podcasts to market their shows — among them, Making a Murderer and Wormwood — and most recently, they’ve come to work Pineapple Street to produce You Can’t Make This Up, an interview that’s designed to dig further into the streaming services’ original documentary programming like The Staircase, Evil Genius, and Wild Wild Country.
To put it another way: Netflix isn’t particularly new to audio. But what seems particularly new here is this rather strong marketing push from the streaming service, whose shares recently took a hit after the company missed its subscriber growth estimates during a recent earnings call.
A video company turning to audio to market itself. What an interesting time.