Netflix Banks on Stand-Up Comedy in New Strategy

If orange is the new black, then Aziz Ansari is the new House of Cards

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If orange is the new black, then Aziz Ansari is the new House of Cards.

In an effort to establish the service as a home for new standup comedy specials a la HBO, Netflix will be heavily promoting Ansari's Buried Alive, Brian Stelter of the New York Times reports today.  

We knew this was coming. Back in July Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells announced that Netflix intended to distribute more original documentaries and stand-up comedy specials. "Netflix has become a big destination for fans of these much loved and often under-distributed genres," Hastings and Wells said, per Variety.

Though Netflix has distributed other original comedy specials before—John Hodgman's was released in June, for example—Stelter explains that when released, Nov. 1 Ansari's will "be the biggest stand-up special distributed by Netflix to date." The promo campaign for the special will align it with Netflix programming like the criticaly-acclaimed, must-see House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black. Netflix's chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Stelter: "We’ve been working to make Netflix a great home for comedians to do their best work and to support their live performance careers, and having Aziz debut his new show with us is a validation of that strategy." 

Ansari, who recently sold his first book for a reported $3.5 million, will also be releasing Buried Alive as a $5 download—which Stelter bills as a "straight-to-fans strategy" a model that has become popular thanks to comedian Louis C.K.following the Netflix premiere.  Still, Ansari told the Times that he hopes Netflix will expand his audience beyond already established fans. 

It will be an interesting couple of months for Netflix on the comedy front. On September 12, the service will release Ricky Gervais' series Derek, a show that drew controversy in the U.K. for what appeared to be Gervais' portrayal of a mentally handicapped person. (Gervais insists that is not the case, and The Hollywood Reporter's Lacey Rose explained that the show featured Gervais in a "kinder persona.") The question, ultimately, is how far Netflix's foray into premium cable territory will go. When, for instance will the show get into movies, news, and talk? For now, the company is pushing the funny.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.