Netflix Announces Its First-Ever Livestream Comedy Event – Gizmodo
Soon after bringing ads onto Netflix through its Basic With Ads tier, the streaming giant is now ready to introduce a brand new feature that will make “Netflix history.” Are you ready for this? Buckle up. It’s… it’s a livestream.
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Netflix announced Thursday that in early 2023, the streaming service will livestream an upcoming comedy special from Chris Rock. The company offered little word about what venue the special will take place in, though the actor’s last special Tamborine that aired in 2018 was filmed in Brooklyn and was directed by very serious comedian Bo Burnham and produced by Chappelle’s Show alum Neal Brennan.
“We’re thrilled the entire world will be able to experience a live Chris Rock comedy event and be a part of Netflix history,” Netflix’s VP of stand up and comedy Robbie Praw said in the official release. Netflix does host its Netflix is a Joke festival, though none of those comedy events have been live streamed on the actual streaming app itself. The service did not mention whether that comedy special would also be broadcast live to Netflix subscribers as well. The next festival is set to take place in April next year.
This has been coming down the pike for a few months now. Back in May, Deadline first reported that the streaming service was working on unscripted streaming and stand up specials. Of course, if this works out, there’s no reason Netflix couldn’t start looking into other live events like sports broadcasting, but the company has not given word about what its future plans are. A Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday said that the company is starting to look into live sports, according to unnamed sources familiar with the matter. As long as it can do it cheaply enough and not get into any huge bidding wars for sports rights. For example, ESPN, Apple, Amazon, and Google are all in a bidding war to get the streaming rights to NFL Sunday Ticket games. Those negotiations are ongoing.
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Netflix could try and go for smaller, less-publicized sports like surfing. The company had tried to buy World Surf League last year, but negotiations fell through, according to the WSJ report.
Though Rock has done several other comedy specials on HBO as well, it will be the first time he’s taking the stage in a recorded setting since the really overblown “slap” incident with Will Smith after the comedian made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith at the 2022 Oscars. According to Deadline, Rock told a London crowd out on the road on his ongoing Ego Death tour that: “People expect me to talk about the bullshit. I’m not going to talk about it right now. I’ll get to it eventually, on Netflix.”
Netflix’s latest earnings report showed that the streaming service had finally started to see an uptick in subscribers after months of declines. The company also has plans to keep users from sharing their accounts, and has already tested out restrictions in some Central and South American markets. The company has not released any new information about when those restrictions could be enforced in the U.S. or other western markets.