Netflix has acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company for GBP500m, its largest to date, marking its latest bid for an edge in the ongoing streaming wars.
On September 22, Netflix acquired the works of Roald Dahl, which includes children’s classics such as the BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Witches.
The acquisition has given Netflix the rights to valuable intellectual property, which has captured the hearts of children and adults alike. Roald Dahl’s books have been translated into 63 languages and sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.
This acquisition builds on a partnership that started three years ago, which aims to create a slate of animated TV series. Academy Award winning filmmaker Taika Waititi and Academy Award nominee Phil Johnston are already working on a series based on the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Netflix is doubling down to gain a competitive edge
The company’s acquisition of Roald Dahl’s work is the latest in a string of strategic moves which it hopes will help establish it as the top player in the streaming market.
In July 2020, Netflix announced that it will launch a free gaming service in 2022, built into its video streaming platform. Gaming is a natural expansion for a company that has developed interactive content in the recent past and is a large market that is growing rapidly.
It has also recently signed a partnership deal with the BBC, which will see the two develop and fund new, ambitious dramas featuring disabled creatives. To further develop its relationship with the UK, Netflix is investing $1bn on new series, films, unscripted, and documentaries, which is expected to create more than 5,000 jobs.
Following booming demand on the back of Covid-19, Netflix has since seen a significant slowdown in subscriber numbers. In comparison to the 15.8 million subscribers added in the first quarter of 2020, Netflix only saw its subscriber base grow by 4 million in the first quarter of 2021. As a result, Netflix’s new ventures are crucial in driving future growth.
Competition is intensifying
In August 2021, Comcast and ViacomCBS announced that they would be joining together to launch a new video on-demand platform in Europe. The new streaming platform will be called SkyShowtime and combine content from both companies’ brands, including Universal, Paramount and Nickelodeon.
The announcement marked the entry of another strong player into the increasingly crowded streaming market. As lockdown measures were enforced around the world in 2020, streaming services saw subscriber numbers surge and viewing times lengthened.
Netflix and Disney+ have both seen great success which has led to media giants scrambling to enter the market. In May, it was announced that AT&T had entered into an agreement to merge its WarnerMedia business with Discovery. The deal will create a new streaming giant, combining WarnerMedia’s HBO and HBO Max with the Discovery+ streaming service.