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Netflix: New Sky deal; French focus; Gibhli get; Royal interest

Netflix has announced an extended multi-year agreement with Sky in the UK. 

The streamer initially signed a distribution deal with Sky in 2018 to bring its app to the Sky Q platform. In a release, Sky said this new deal will expand upon the initial agreement, and give customers the option to take up Netflix’s Basic Plan on Sky Q (customers previously had to be an existing Netflix customer or sign up elsewhere).

Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky UK and Ireland, said: “This is a great start to what is set to be another strong year for Sky. Our customers love Netflix content and our partnership continues to go from strength to strength, we plan to launch new channels and genres, start building our new studio, Sky Studios Elstree, and we’ll have great new and returning Sky originals too. This year our customers will have access to even more great content – all in one place.”

This is the latest distribution deal that Netflix has signed with a major European operator, and follows a similar deal with French Canal+ in September 2019.

New Parisian office and further French investment

CEO Reed Hastings was present to officially open Netflix’s new French headquarters in Paris.

Initial staff count will be 40 people working across film, TV and marketing, though the company says there is room for a further 100.

The Parisian office is the latest hub for the streamer’s European operations, with its EMEA HQ being based in Amsterdam.

The streamer took the opportunity to announce significant new investment in French original content, and launched a content roadmap that will nearly double the number of French language originals. In total, Netflix will add 20 new productions to the 24 it has created since 2014.

Elusive Studio Ghibli signs on

Celebrated Japanese art house Studio Ghibli has signed a distribution deal with Netflix that will bring many of its titles to the streamer globally.

Through distribution partner Wild Bunch International, 21 of the studio’s films will be added to Netflix over the course of three months starting February 1. Iconic titles such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neigbor Totoro and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away will be made available to stream for the first time.

The deal covers Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, with WarnerMedia previously acquiring the rights to the library in the US and Canada for upcoming streamer HBO Max.

Toshio Suzuki, producer at Studio Ghibli, said, “In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences. We’ve listened to our fans and have made the definitive decision to stream our film catalogue. We hope people around the world will discover the world of Studio Ghibli through this experience”.

Vincent Maraval, CEO of Wild Bunch International said: “In finding the best digital partner for Studio Ghibli, our most valuable and faithful collaborators for 20 years, the Netflix team convinced us with their consistent love and energy for finding the best ways to promote the incredible and unique catalogue worldwide with respect to the Studio Ghibli philosophy”.

Studio Ghibli properties have long been elusive on digital platforms. The deal announced last year on HBO Max was considered a landmark, and broke the studio’s opposition to any form of streaming or digital downloading. Standing out in the modern age, Studio Ghibli films have only been available through physical formats or theatrical revivals.

Aram Yacoubian, director of original animation at Netflix, said: “This is a dream come true for Netflix and millions of our members. Studio Ghibli’s animated films are legendary and have enthralled fans around the world for over 35 years. We’re excited to make them available in more languages across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia – so that more people can enjoy this whimsical and wonderful world of animation.”

Royal runaways

Netflix is interested in doing a deal with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, chief content officer Ted Sarandos has said.

Speaking at an event in Los Angeles, Sarandos said: “Who wouldn’t be interested? Yes, sure.”

There has been much speculation as to what is next for the couple who are in the process of withdrawing from their royal duties.

Markle, an actor by trade who is most famous for her role of Rachel Zane on the USA Network’s legal drama Suits, has already agreed to do voiceover work for Disney in exchange for a charitable donation. Meanwhile the Prince has been working with Oprah Winfrey for an Apple TV+ documentary about mental health.