Netflix's 'You' Started on Lifetime...

Emily Yahr:

Lifetime took a chance, hoping that millennials (the most likely audience) would find the show. But because many young viewers don’t have cable TV access or think of it as an option, they missed it. The ratings weren’t terrible: The show averaged about 1.1 million viewers a week, including DVR and delayed viewing. Still, even though Lifetime executives loved the show and optioned a second season before the first debuted, the numbers simply weren’t high enough to justify continuing the expensive series on their network.
“You” wrapped on Lifetime in November. From the beginning, Netflix had the second-run U.S. rights and first-run global rights of the show, which is produced by Warner Horizon Scripted Television. When Lifetime passed on a second season, Netflix decided to take over the series completely and ordered Season 2 as an official Netflix original.
A few weeks later, it proved to be a wise decision: Season 1 started streaming and sparked an Internet frenzy. Mentions on social media skyrocketed. The stars gained hundreds of thousands of new Instagram followers. Badgley seemed amused at the renewed attention, as he started tweeting back to fans who found his deranged character inexplicably charming. (Note: Gross.) On Thursday, Netflix executives announced in a shareholder letter that they estimate more than 40 million member households will watch “You” in its first four weeks on the streaming service. (As usual, there’s no way to verify these numbers, because Netflix isn’t monitored by a third-party.)

There are a number of fascinating things going on here. While I've long thought Netflix would be a perfect home to bring back old cult hits -- which they eventually did, of course -- this is something different entirely. It's taking a show that wasn't a hit, and making it one. Sure, Netflix has such power and ability given their user numbers, but it's also about knowing those users really well.

All of this really has to make traditional television even more terrified of Netflix. They're taking their discarded coal and turning it into diamonds.


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