- Netflix has built an impressive library of British TV shows by partnering with UK production companies and networks, and by acquiring exclusive streaming rights.
- One of its most popular British shows, “Bodyguard,” won a Golden Globe this month and was viewed by 23 million households in its first four weeks.
- Its even produced its own British series, “Sex Education,” which is a hit with critics and audiences.
As Netflix aims to build its global audience, it’s investing in original international content. It announced 17 new Asian originals last year, including eight films from India.
But it’s found early success in the United Kingdom.
The streaming giant has built an impressive library of British TV shows through partnering with UK production companies and networks, and by acquiring exclusive, worldwide distribution rights.
One of the most popular titles to come from such a deal is “Bodyguard,” which was nominated for best drama series and won best actor (Richard Madden) earlier this month at the Golden Globes. Netflix said during its earnings call last week that the show was viewed by 23 million households in its first month. Netflix partnered with the BBC and distributed the show exclusively outside of the UK and Ireland.
The strategy benefits both Netflix and British TV networks, as the shows gain a larger audience and can potentially bring in more subscribers for the streamer. “The Last Kingdom,” which originally premiered on BBC networks in 2015, found worldwide success after moving to Netflix.
The show’s executive producer, Gareth Neame, told The Guardian last year that the show “didn’t break through” until Netflix co-produced the second season and streamed it globally. The third season debuted on Netflix in November.
Netflix’s British strategy has paid off so well that the company produced its own British series. “Sex Education,” which premiered this month, is purely a Netflix original that didn’t originate on a UK network, but features a primarily international cast and was filmed in South Wales.
The show is a hit with critics and audiences. It has a 90% Rotten Tomatoes critic score and Netflix said in its earnings report that it will be viewed by an estimated 40 million households in its first month.
Below are 7 Netflix original series that prove its British strategy is working:
“The End of the F***ing World”
Description:“A budding teen psychopath and a rebel hungry for adventure embark on a star-crossed road trip in this darkly comic series based on a graphic novel.”
Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98%
What critic said: “No matter how you take the ending, each interpretation carries significance, which is exactly what the creator intended.” – Ben Travers, Indiewire
Season 1 premiered on Netflix in January 5, 2018. It has been renewed for a second season.
Description:“Investigating the murder of a pizza delivery man, a London detective uncovers a tangled conspiracy involving drug dealers, smugglers and spies.”
Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 72%
What critic said: “Collateral doesn’t overstay its welcome and doesn’t leave much unresolved, which is a relief. Mulligan’s character’s drive is the drive of the show.” – Dan Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
Season 1 premiered on Netflix in March. It was developed as a mini series, so a second season is likely not happening.
Description: “After helping thwart a terrorist attack, a war veteran is assigned to protect a politician who was a main proponent of the very conflict he fought in.”
Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%
What critics said: “More concerned with being a good ride than exploring character or politics, the show is awash in a timely cynicism.” – John Powers, NPR
Season 1 premiered on Netflix in October.
Description: “Unable to revive their fading sex life after many years of marriage, a therapist and her husband decide to start dating other people.”
Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 74%
What critics said: “It’s almost a romp, as we follow the sexual and emotional arcs of each character on the show, including his coworkers and her clients. Light, but meaningful, the show looks into the complicated interplay between intimacy and sex.” – Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe
Season 1 premiered on Netflix in October.
“The Last Kingdom”
Description: “As Alfred the Great defends his kingdom from Norse invaders, Uhtred – born a Saxon but raised by Vikings – seeks to claim his ancestral birthright.”
Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 87%
What critics said (Season 3): “Earthy family drama abounds and it’s the soapy elements that make it feel like home.” – James Donaghy, The Guardian
Season 3 premiered on Netflix in November.
Description: “Insecure Otis has all the answers when it comes to sex advice, thanks to his therapist mum. So rebel Maeve proposes a school sex-therapy clinic.”
Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 90%
What critics said: “Here is a series that pulls off a curious trick: It’s a woke raunch comedy, replete with graphic and humiliating sexual experiences, yet bent on using them in a very sincere way.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
Season 1 premiered on Netflix January 11.
Description:“This sci-fi anthology series explores a twisted, high-tech near-future where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.”
Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 86%
What critics said: “The best Black Mirror episodes – of which ‘USS Callister’ is definitely one – identify issues lurking beneath the surface of the real world and extrapolate them into a future where technology has given them form and heft.” – Jenna Scherer, Rolling Stone
Season 4 premiered in December 2017. “Bandersnatch” premiered December 28, 2018. Season 5 is expected this year.