Netflix cues up 2nd round of 'Orange' before 1st season airs

In a show of confidence, Netflix greenlights another season of prison dramedy "Orange Is the New Black" before subscribers have seen it.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Actress Taylor Schilling gets booked as her character Piper Chapman in a screenshot from the trailer for Netflix's next original series "Orange Is the New Black." Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Netflix's next original series to premiere, "Orange Is the New Black," is already set to come back next year before the company's subscribers have a chance to see the first go-round.

The renewal of the show, which is about a woman who must put her comfortable New York life on hold to serve a 15-month prison sentence, is clearly a display of confidence in the program, but it's not unprecedented. Netflix ordered two seasons of "House of Cards" sight unseen, before it had any assurances it would become the home run that it did.

But "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards" are in the same sweet spot. Both fit the mold of HBO or Showtime programming, which buttresses Netflix's goal to grow beyond a catalog of older movies and television shows into a must-visit destination for the stuff of water cooler chatter that ultimately drives subscriptions.

The coming program also gets its bona fides in that realm from creator and executive producer Jenji Kohan, the creator Showtime's hit "Weeds."

Original shows and films are the rage now, with tech outfits spanning Amazon, Microsoft's Halo franchise and AOL investing in exclusive programs.

The company's head of content, Ted Sarandos, has said the budget for original programming will as much as triple over the next couple years, from less than 5 percent of the total content budget now.

Of its homegrown series the public has already seen, "Arrested Development" is the only one without the go-ahead for an encore. Last week, Netflix ordered up a second season of horror thriller "Hemlock Grove." And "Lilyhammer," about a New York gangster starting over in Norway, has a return season in production.

The most high-profile of Netflix's programming endeavors after "House of Cards," "Arrested Development" lacked the same response as that series, though the Herculean effort it took to produce the new episodes of the dark comedy are likely the larger factor, as Netflix has heralded the show's reception.

Netflix has a couple other original shows on its marquee for the back half of the year: "Derek," a comedic look at life in a senior center from Ricky Gervais and "Turbo: F.A.S.T.," a children's program in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation. Next year brings science fiction thriller "Sense8" from the Wachowski siblings, who created the Matrix trilogy.