Netflix orders up third season of 'Lilyhammer'

The overlooked older brother of "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black" will return for a third season later this year.

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Joan E. Solsman
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Steven Van Zandt stars as a gangster hiding out in Norway in "Lilyhammer." Netflix

"Lilyhammer," the Netflix original series, returns for a third season later this year, the company said Monday.

The series, the second season of which rolled out just last month, was a predecessor to the flashier Netflix originals like "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black" that have garnered the streaming-video service primetime Emmys, word-of-mouth buzz, and critical accolades. (Sunday night, "House of Cards" star Robin Wright won a Golden Globe award for her role on the show.)

The eight-episodes order of the under-the-radar show underscores how Netflix -- which holds the reins on costs and rights for shows its makes itself -- is willing to keep plugging on with programs that may lack the hit status that traditional networks idolize but have other valuable qualities instead. In the case of "Lilyhammer," it's international appeal.

"We are proud to bring back Lilyhammer for a third season," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. "Lilyhammer is the type of global show that Netflix members around the world have discovered and love and season three will see that world expand even more."

Despite all the attention paid to Netflix's originals strategy, which takes up a fraction of its content budget, the company is pouring all its domestic profits into international expansion. It's important for Netflix to build up awareness of its service abroad, if it wants to keep expanding, as its ability to grow in the US starts to bump up against its saturation point.

Originals like "Lilyhammer" and the rest are a key tenet of Netflix's strategy to shift from its DVD-delivery origins to a self-proclaimed leading Internet television network, while taking greater control of costs and rights for streaming content.

More recently, the company has expanded beyond hour-long dramas and half-hour comedies, like "Arrested Development," with documentary films and stand-up comedy features.