Netflix is overhauling it’s comedy section big time in the coming month as it looks to scale back on the number of stand-up specials it produces year to year. The streamer has been practically prolific in every way with its investment into its comedy endeavors. Recent specials showcasing a variety of comics include Jenny Slate, Dave Chappelle, and Ellen DeGeneres, which live alongside stand-up showcases like the aptly named series The Stand-Ups as well as more traditional comedy shows focused on the stand-up craft like Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee hosted by Jerry Seinfeld and classic specials like Eddie Murphy’s Delirious.
Despite the large and regular output of comedy specials Netflix has overseen, a new report from Bloomberg indicates they will be scaling back big time. Per Bloomberg, it looks like Netflix has (to date) released 30 new stand-up specials. This is a decently downsize from the 50 stand-up specials produced by this same time in 2018. Because Netflix is extremely stingy with releasing viewer numbers on basically anything, it’s tough to know if this scale back is due to low viewership or if it’s something as simple as the company looking to refocus its creative energies elsewhere.
As mentioned before, Netflix has become a truly formidable outlet in the realm of comedy and stand-up comedy, specifically. The streamer hasn’t just become the venue for household name comics like Seinfeld, Murphy, or DeGeneres but they’ve also put an emphasis on spotlighting international stand-ups like Vir Das, Gad Elmaleh, and James Acaster as well as break-out comedians like Natasha Leggero, Nikki Glaser, and Ali Wong. In doing so, Netflix has given longtime TV comedy champ Comedy Central and even HBO a run for their money, offering up a huge and diverse group of comedians for viewers to choose from.
As Bloomberg points out, Netflix scaling back could knock the comedy world for an unexpected loop as the community has come to view the streamer as another way to breakout in a big way. Additionally, Netflix reducing their stand-up special output means their dominance of that corner of the market will slow, too, leaving them vulnerable to other networks or streamers encroaching on their territory. Where Netflix goes from here, though, is truly anybody’s guess.