Netflix’s Sarandos Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Service’s First Original Series ‘Lilyhammer’

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos Feb. 6 celebrated the 10th anniversary of the service’s first original series.

“Our actual first original series was ‘Lilyhammer’ and today, Feb. 6, marks the 10th anniversary of its historic Netflix premiere,” Sarandos wrote in a blog. 

Sarandos recalled the history of the series’ origin in a blog and video with the show’s star Stevie Van Zandt.

“A seminal moment in Netflix history began in a recording studio by the North Sea,” he wrote in the blog. “Bergen is where Norwegian creators Eilif Skodvin and Anne Bjørnstad approached Stevie Van Zandt about a show they wrote for him set in a small Norwegian town called Lillehammer. A few months later, having heard that Netflix was looking for original content, I got a call directly from Stevie, who wanted to send us the series. I asked if we could read the scripts and Stevie said, ‘Scripts? I can send you the whole season.’

“We watched it and we loved it. I thought it was a classic fish-out-of-water story, with Stevie playing a role loved by audiences, and the interplay between his no-nonsense hitman Frank Tagliano and the gentle community around him made for some great comedy. It was a character that was so familiar in a culture that few audiences had seen. I wasn’t sure what would come from that first phone call with Stevie. I was (am) a huge fan of his music and I loved him in ‘The Sopranos,’ so I was happy just to get to talk to him for a few minutes.”

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Van Zandt wasn’t initially excited about Netflix’s release of the series all at once, Sarandos recalled.

“When I told him that we would not be showing the episodes one per week, we would deliver the entire season all at once, that stopped him in his tracks,” Sarandos wrote. “‘You labor and suffer and someone can watch a year of your work in one night? That sounds a little weird,’ he said. ‘It’s not weird,’ I told him. ‘It’s just like working on an album.’ He laughed and agreed. ”

After first airing on Norwegian broadcast TV NRK on Jan. 25, 2012, Netflix debuted “Lilyhammer” on Netflix on Feb. 6, 2012, offering all eight episodes to members in the United States, Canada and Latin America (followed by the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Nordics later that year).

“This was the first time we streamed a show across multiple countries and languages … and it worked,” Sarandos wrote. “Looking back, ‘Lilyhammer’ was perhaps an unorthodox choice for our first show. But it worked because it was a deeply local story that we could share with the world. The jokes and references worked locally and the more universal themes of the shows traveled perfectly.” 

Sarandos noted that “Lilyhammer” paved the way for Netflix’s success with international content.

“Thank you ‘Lilyhammer’ and Stevie Van Zandt for starting this incredible 10-year journey,” Sarandos wrote.


Pluto TV Gets Netflix Original Series ‘Narcos’

In a significant move, ViacomCBS-owned AVOD platform Pluto TV has secured free streaming rights to Netflix original series “Narcos” beginning on Oct. 20. The deal was ironed out between Gaumont, co-producer of the series, and Pluto TV. This marks the first time the five seasons of the entire “Narcos” series will be available to stream, for free, in the U.S.

T-Mobile joins Pluto TV as the presenting sponsor for “Narcos,” offering limited commercial interruptions for the first two episodes.

The series about law enforcement’s efforts to take down notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar (played by Brazilian actor Wagner Moura) originally streamed on Netflix in August 2015. The program will be streamed across four different Pluto TV channels, with multiple air times and different languages to appeal to and accommodate a wide variety of viewing audiences and preferences.

“Narcos” will be programmed across Pluto TV’s Crime Drama and Narco Novelas channels and its own branded single-series, marathon-style channels — Narcos and Narcos en Español. Spanish-speaking versions of Narcos will stream with English subtitles, and respectively, English-speaking versions of Narcos will stream with Spanish subtitles catering to multi-lingual audiences.

“As the adoption of ad-supported streaming continues to accelerate, we are excited to build on that momentum and align with esteemed creators and producers in search of new ways to introduce audiences to their coveted collection of award-winning content,” Amy Kuessner, SVP of content strategy and global partnerships at Pluto TV, said in a statement.

Kuessner said the deal with Gaumont underscores the evolving AVOD landscape that is rapidly gaining foothold for distributors, content holders and viewers.

Season One of “Narcos” will stream weeknights at 10 p.m. ET, with catch-up episodes the following day beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Bonus weekend marathons will be offered following the series premiere. Pluto TV will debut a new season each month through February 2021.

“Narcos” (season 1-3): From the Colombian government to the DEA agents and the policemen who would risk their lives pursuing drug lord Pablo Escabar, the series takes an unfiltered look into the war that would change the drug trade forever.

Spin-off series,”Narcos: Mexico” (season 4-5) explores the origin of the modern war on drugs, beginning at the time when Mexican traffickers were a loose and disorganized confederation of small-time independent dealers.  As the series progresses, viewers are introduced to DEA Agent Walt Breslin, the man in charge of Operation Leyenda: the DEA’s second attempt to take down the biggest drug lords in Mexico.