Netflix did not invent the concept of the capital-O “Original,” but it has been the most aggressive company in terms of using the label to brand and market its exclusive programming — even if it didn’t commission or produce the show on its own. What that has created is an ecosystem where the definition of an “Original” is different based on the company and/or geographic market in question. It’s also an ecosystem that’s very advantageous to Netflix.

The key hits:

  • More people think of “You,” a drama series on Netflix, was made by Netflix; the show was originally made for Lifetime.
  • Netflix’s promotional and distribution power has made “You” more popular than it ever was on Lifetime.
  • This points to how Netflix takes an elastic approach to how it defines an “Original,” which can include both shows developed and owned by Netflix, and licensed programming that Netflix only has partial exclusivity to.
  • It’s marketing, but still very advantageous to Netflix: The company is focused on getting hundreds of millions of subscribers across the globe, which means it needs to be everything for everyone. By liberally applying the “Netflix Original” label, it’s training users to think of Netflix as all of TV, not just a single network.
  • Plus, with more than 700 “original” projects premiering every year, Netflix does not need as high of a batting average as networks that deliver less than a dozen original projects per year.

What’s an “Original” these days, anyway?

  • LinkedIn Icon