Netflix hooks Russell Peters for originals twofer: stand-up and documentary

Canadian comic will provide the fodder for Netflix's first earnest push into original docs and stand-up specials, making good on its promise for both this year.

The comedian Russell Peters
Russell Peters in Netflix's "Notorious." Netflix

Netflix said it would be setting its original-content sights on documentaries and stand-up specials next, but it didn't mention the two would come hand-in-hand.

The subscription streaming-video service will premiere a comedy special and four-part documentary series based on Canadian comedian Russell Peters' "Notorious" world tour next month. The 70-minute stand-up special, which shares the same name as the tour itself, and docu-series "Russell Peters vs. the World" will be available on Netflix on October 14. They will be available wherever Netflix is.

The move underscores Netflix's ambitions to follow in the path of HBO, a home not only to movies but also edgy originals, be they series, doc, or special.

In July, the company said it would be widening its original strategy beyond series to "broadly appealing" feature documentaries and stand-up comedy specials. Netflix so far has put most of its originals focus on series like "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black," which have a recurring nature that aligns with Netflix's need to keep subscribers as much as win new ones.

You can be more confident your viewers will stick around, after all, if you can promise another season is coming and end the preceding one on a cliffhanger.

Documentaries and specials like the ones with Peters don't have the same "stay tuned" contract with their audience. But Netflix has said both types are "much loved and often under-distributed genres" that have made Netflix into a fan destination.

Time Warner's HBO and Viacom's Comedy Central are among a small sect of power players in television comedy specials in the US, with the former also among the go-to place for televised documentaries.

Netflix already has a track record with comedy specials, however, having premiered the likes of "Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland" on its site. Friday, comedian Aziz Ansari said Netflix would be releasing his next special on November 1.

But in those cases, Netflix's role has been primarily distribution and, in the case of Ansari, plans for heavy promotion. The Peters projects have more involvement on the part of Netflix in bringing them about.

Peters has history with Netflix too. Peters' last special, "The Green Card Tour LIVE From the O2 Arena," was broadcast on the site, as well as Showtime and Comedy Central.

 

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