Streaming Wars: Netflix & Amazon Racing Towards Black Content

  • Jordan Peele signs TV deal with Amazon
  • Predominantly black casts or storylines draw substantial non-black viewership

Jordan Peele, the writer and director of the hit film “Get Out” has signed a deal that gives Amazon (AMZN +0.30%) a first look at his Monkeypaw Production company ideas for television series. How important is it for Amazon and Netflix (NFLX +0.24%) to tap into shows with a strong black identity as a way to increase subscribers?

Why This Matters: Original content has become one of Amazon's most public endeavors. The company is expected to spend about $5 billion on new original programming this year. Netflix is investing up to $8 billion in original content in 2018 as it looks to expand its subscriber number.

Peele joines the influx of black producers and creators teaming up with streaming companies. The Obama’s just inked a multi-year storytelling contract with Netflix to produce series and films under their company Higher Ground Productions. The streaming service also has a multi-year content deal with award-winning showrunner Shonda Rhimes for reportedly $100 million.

Actors Tiffany Haddish, Spike Lee, and director Ava DuVernay are among the other black people who have worked with Netflix. It’s also rumored that ABC’s “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris might join the team. Notably all of these creators have developed black-related content.

For both Amazon and Netflix this push to collaborate with black creators makes perfect sense. If we look at traditional TV viewership, Nielsen found shows with a predominantly black cast or a main storyline focused on a black character are drawing substantial non-black viewership.

“Storylines with a strong black character or identity are crossing cultural boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations,” said Andrew McCaskill, senior vice president of Communications and Multicultural Marketing at Nielsen.

Situational Awareness: Streaming services which have a much broader reach than traditional TV have a lot to gain by betting on black producers. While Netflix is leading the race Amazon has very deep pockets and could easily out pace its top competitor in this space.

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