Netflix Orders Two-Part Final Season for ‘Ozark’

Netflix has renewed the family crime drama “Ozark” for a 14-episode final season that will be presented in two batches of seven episodes each. The debut dates for the season have not yet been announced.

The fourth and final season of “Ozark” will conclude the story of the Byrde family’s journey from suburban Chicago life to attempting to establish a criminal enterprise in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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Emmy Award nominee Chris Mundy will return as showrunner, writer and executive producer, joined behind the camera by series star Jason Bateman, who previously won an Emmy for directing on the show. Other returning cast members include Laura Linney, Julia Garner (who won an Emmy for the second season), Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, Charlie Tahan and Lisa Emery.

“We’re so happy Netflix recognized the importance of giving Ozark more time to end the Byrdes’ saga right,” Mundy said in a statement. “It’s been such a great adventure for all of us — both on screen and off — so we’re thrilled to get the chance to bring it home in the most fulfilling way possible.”

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The previous three seasons of the show ran for 10 episodes each.

Netflix Reconsidering Georgia Film, TV Productions

Netflix reportedly is reconsidering its massive investment in movie and TV show productions in the state of Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed an anti-abortion law there on May 8.

The action by the SVOD behemoth, which has more than 150 million subscribers globally and spends tens of millions on productions in Georgia, could be a catalyst for Hollywood studios to up heretofore tepid responses to the legislation.

Georgia’s anti-abortion law, which goes into effect in 2020, would ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — a timeline by which the law’s critics say most woman wouldn’t know they’re pregnant. Currently the ban is after 20 weeks.

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“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” CCO Ted Sarandos said in a statement first reported by The Wrap. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court.”

Sarandos reiterated that until the law actually goes into effect, Netflix would continue to produce content in Georgia, while supporting partners and artists who choose not to.

“Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia,” he said.

Current Netflix productions in the Peach state include original series “Ozark,” “Insatiable,” and feature film Holidate, among others.

“Ozark” star Jason Bateman has already stated publicly that he would no longer work in Georgia should the law go into effect.

“If the ‘heartbeat bill’ makes it through the court system, I will not work in Georgia, or any other state, that is so disgracefully at odds with women’s rights,” Bateman said in a statement.

Georgia Looking to Tax Netflix, Other Streaming Services

Georgia is looking at becoming only the fourth state in the country to tax digital entertainment services such as Netflix, Spotify, e-Books and video games.

The proposed 4% tax would add 52 cents, or $6.24 annually, to Netflix’s $12.99 monthly plan. Similar taxes are already on the books in Hawaii, Washington and Pennsylvania. A 9% “amusement services” tax drafted by Chicago in 2015 was upheld last summer by a local circuit court. The ruling is under appeal.

Georgia, which initiated sales taxes for online purchases on Jan. 1, seeks to use the tax revenue for the construction of high-speed Internet service in rural areas. About 16% of rural households in the state reportedly lack broadband access.

“This is not a new tax,” Jay Powell, a Republican representative from Camilla and author of the bill, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Technology is changing. The bottom line is, I’m getting movies, sports, news and all the things I’ve always gotten, but I’m getting them via a different medium, which is streaming services as opposed to cable TV.”

Traditional pay-TV and telecommunication services operating in Georgia currently pay fees ranging from 5% to 7%.

Newly-elected Republican Gov. Brian Kemp isn’t in favor of the tax. Perhaps mindful of Hollywood’s $1.5 billion annual spending in the state on movies and TV show productions (Netflix’s “Ozark” is filmed at Lake Lanier), Kemp, who championed President Trump’s corporate tax cut, said he would prefer alternative options.

“My first inclination is not to look at tax increases to pay for this,” Kemp told Georgia Public Broadcasting. “If we’re going to have some sort of offset, I’d be open to looking at that. I don’t know that raising taxes is the answer for me.”

Georgia’s 2019 legislative session ends in April.

Netflix in Content Crosshairs

Lost in Netflix’s strong third-quarter subscriber growth numbers was the streaming media giant’s surprise revelation about the ownership status of its original content.

With Netflix spending upwards of $12 billion on original content in 2018 – underscored by $18 billion in third-party content obligations – the service said its alarming negative free cash flow is about to level off.

To assuage naysayers, Netflix (on page three of the shareholder newsletter), disclosed the ownership status of original programing – a dynamic that will continue to change as the Walt Disney Co. pulls original movies and related content from Netflix for its own pending over-the-top video platform.

Netflix says it has three major categories of content: licensed non-first-window content, such as “​Shameless​”; licensed original first-window content, such as ​“Orange Is the New Black”(​owned and developed by Lionsgate), “Ozark” (Sony Pictures Television) and “Insatiable” (CBS); and owned original first-window content from its own studio, such as ​“Stranger Things​.”

The latter category also includes “Big Mouth,” “The Ranch​,” “​Bright​,” “Godless,”​“The Kissing Booth​,” ​“3%,”​“​Dark,”​“​Sacred Games”​and “Nailed It​.”

Within those categories there are lots of subdivisions and per-territory treatments, but those are Netflix big three content buckets.

Netflix claims the classification of content will help reduce its reliance on outside studios, provide greater control over content it creates in-house (i.e., long-term global rights), increase brand/consumer product tie-ins, and lower costs (avoiding third-party studio mark-ups).

“To do this, we’ve had to develop new capabilities to manage the entire production process from creative support, production planning, crew and vendor management to visual effects, to name a few,” Netflix management wrote in the letter.

At the same time, Netflix is staking its future largely on proprietary content, whose popularity is at the whim of an increasingly fickle consumer.

Indeed, with the exception of Emmy-nominated “Stranger Things” and “Godless,” most of Netflix’s award-nominated original content is third-party sourced. The rest is a “hot mess,” according to Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter.

“We think it is downright quixotic of the company to presume that it can produce compelling content that will replace the licensed content it currently displays from major studios,” Pachter wrote in a note.

Pachter believes that should Netflix somehow default on its mushrooming debt, creditors would be hard pressed to convert any of the content into cash, particularly any of the capitalized content that is owned by others.

“It is simply impossible to comprehend how Netflix has been able to capitalize over $18 billion of its content spending with so few compelling owned original television series and films,” he wrote.

Demand for ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ Nearly Doubles as Amazon Series Breaks Into Digital Originals Top 10

A modest rise in demand of less than 5% was enough to propel “Stranger Things” into the No. 1 position on the digital originals chart for the week ended Sept. 8, breaking a five-week hold on the top chart position by “Orange is the New Black,” Parrot Analytics data shows.

Both digital originals series are from Netflix. “Orange,” a drama about women in prison, saw its Demand Expressions fall by about 6% during the week, to 31.4 million,  and finished the week at No. 2.

“Demand Expressions” is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

A third Netflix series, “Ozark” shot up to No. 2 from No. 10 the previous week, thanks to an 85% spike in Demand Expressions the week after the launch of Season 2. “Ozark” stars Jason Bateman as financial planner Marty Byrde, who relocates his family from a Chicago suburb to a resort town in the Ozarks after a money-laundering scheme goes wrong – only to become entangled with a whole new breed of organized crime.

An even bigger week-to-week gain was posted by Amazon Prime Video’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” which broke into the top 10 with a 95% gain in Demand Expressions. The action series debuted at No. 7 in the week following its Aug. 31 launch.

Amazon had already announced a second season before the series even premiered.

Hulu’s “Castle Rock,” a horror series based on the writings of Stephen King, slipped to No. 4 from No. 3 the prior week, with demand essentially flat. Also down a notch is “Voltron: Legendary Defender” (Netflix), which took over the No. 5 spot from still another Netflix series, “Disenchantment.”

“Disenchantment,” created by “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” creator Matt Groening, suffered a drop in demand of more than 12% and finished the week at No. 9.

“Disenchantment” is Netflix’s sixth animated series targeting adults. The first, “Bojack Horseman,” returned to the top 10 the week ended Sept. 8 with a 72% gain in demand, with more than 19.3 million Demand Expressions – enough for a seventh-place finish.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Launch of Season 2 Propels ‘Ozark’ Back Into Digital Originals Top 10

Once again, there were few changes in demand for the top digital originals this past week, with only one returning series bowing in the top 10, according to Parrot Analytics data for the week ended Sept. 1.

The returnee is “Ozark,” on Netflix, which re-entered the top 10 at No. 10 with a 48% spike in Demand Expressions after the Aug. 31 debut of Season 2. “Ozark” stars Jason Bateman as financial planner Marty Byrde, who suddenly relocates his family from a Chicago suburb to a resort town in the Ozarks after a money-laundering scheme goes wrong.

He fled to the Ozarks in the hopes of paying off a debt to a Mexican drug lord, only to become entangled with a whole new breed of organized crime.

“Demand Expressions” is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Elsewhere on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals chart, the Netflix women-in-prison drama “Orange is the New Black” remains No. 1, a position it has now held for five consecutive weeks. Demand for the series, a month after the launch of Season 6, rose nearly 12% during the week.

“Stranger Things” (Netflix) remains No. 2, with demand relatively flat.

Hulu’s “Castle Rock,” a horror series based on the writings of Stephen King, moved up to No. 3 from No. 4 with an 8% gain in demand, bumping “Voltron: Legendary Defender” (Netflix) to No. 4 after two weeks in third place.

Netflix’s “Disenchanted” remains No. 5 for the second consecutive week with a nearly 15% spike in demand. Created by “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” creator Matt Groening, “Disenchantment” is Netflix’s sixth animated series targeting adults.

The show debuted in the top 10 the previous week following its Aug. 17 debut. “Disenchantment” follows Bean, a wild and heavily drinking princess, her innocent elf companion Elfo, and her “personal demon” Luci.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Janet McTeer Signed to Facebook Watch Original Series

Upstart over-the-top video service Facebook Watch reportedly has signed two-time Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds, Albert Nobbs) to original dark comedy, “Sorry For Your Loss,” also staring (and executive produced by) Elizabeth Olsen (Ingrid Goes West, Martha Marcy May Marlene).

McTeer plays a fitness-obsessed, overbearing mother to young widow Olsen trying to deal with grief, among other issues. The series also stars Kelly Marie Tran and Jovan Adepo.

Ad-supported Facebook Watch, which splits revenue (45%/55%) with content creators, launched last August. Facebook reportedly set aside $1 billion for original content production in 2018.

Earlier this week, Facebook Watch hired ex-Pinterest executive Mike Bidgoli to head the video product unit, in addition to Matthew Henick as head of content planning and strategy.

British-born McTeer is also starring in the second season of Netflix original series, “Ozark,” starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney as parents of two young children on the run from the drug cartel.

McTeer plays a Chicago based attorney with links to the cartel. In making a deal with the devil, she becomes a potential threat to the Byrde family.