In the palatial surroundings of the Palazzo ballroom in the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Netflix boss Reed Hastings dropped a bombshell on Wednesday: the streaming service is today switched on in 130 new countries. To herald this global expansion, Netflix harnessed the star power of its original content by revealing first looks at new shows "The Get Down", "The Crown" and "Chelsea Does..."
The international expansion and the star-studded new shows mark a clear statement from Netflix. Rival Amazon Video has been making headlines lately with its own star-studded original content, but it's only available in the US, UK and a handful of other countries. By contrast, Hastings says Netflix is available pretty much everywhere in the world barring China. And the plan for world domination doesn't just include streaming to other countries across the globe. It means producing shows in these countries too.
"The Crown" is one of the first examples of those international productions. Following the Spanish-Language "Club de Cuervos" and "Narcos", shot in Mexico and Colombia, respectively, "The Crown" is produced in Britain. It'll be followed by shows made in France and Italy.
Introducing the first footage of "The Crown", Hastings compared the show with prestige offerings by more traditional broadcasters the BBC and PBS. Set in the 1950s, "The Crown" stars Clare Foy as a young Queen Elizabeth II torn between her new husband Prince Philip and old-fashioned Winston Churchill, played respectively by "Doctor Who" star Matt Smith and Hollywood star John Lithgow.
The other new series teased by Netflix couldn't be further away from the glacial photography and stiff upper lips of "The Crown." "The Get Down", created by "Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann and "The Shield" creator Shawn Ryan, exuberantly re-creates 1970s New York. A cast of newcomers don colourful '70s fashions and suitably giant hair to tell a coming-of-age story set during the birth of hip-hop.
Here's the first trailer (warning to the easily offended: there is some adult language -- and some seriously offensive outfits).
Hastings spoke at a keynote speech opening this year's CES, the annual Vegas-set trade show where tech titans gather to show off their wares for the coming year. He was joined on stage by comedian and talk show host Chelsea Handler with fellow Netflix stars Will Arnett, Krysten Ritter and Wagner Moura.
Handler has created four documentary shows under the name "Chelsea Does..." Each film explores a different topic, including marriage, racism, drugs and the technology bubble of California's startup paradise Silicon Valley.
Following the documentary series, Handler will front a talk show exclusively available through Netflix.