Netflix to Spend an Absolutely Nutty Amount of Money on Content in 2020

     January 16, 2020


2020 will be the year of streaming explosions. Beyond the mainstays like Hulu and Amazon Prime, and hot-stepping newcomers like Disney+ and Apple TV+, 2020 will see networks (apps?) like HBO Max and Peacock jumping in to vie for our entertainment attention. However, this increased competition in the marketplace doesn’t seem to be affecting what is still arguably the biggest name in streaming: Netflix. In fact, according to a forecast from BMO Capital Markets (h/t Variety), the company will spend $17.3 billion on 2020 content — up from $15.3 billion in 2019.

Most of this projected 2020 budget will be spent on original content — a severe jump over streaming competitors like Disney+ (planning to spend $1 billion on original content), HBO Max ($2 billion), and Peacock ($2 billion). Original content seems to be the bread and butter for Netflix moving forward — they produced 802 hours of original programming in 2019, a record amount for the service, including bonafide sensations like Stranger ThingsThe Irishman, and Marriage Story. And they have no intentions on stopping — BMO predicts by 2028 that Netflix’s spending will top $26 billion.


Image via Netflix

However, this all comes at a cost — er, no pun intended. Netflix is currently in around $14.6 billion in long-term debt, owes around $19.1 billion to content suppliers (including $10.8 billion off the books), and issued $2.2 billion in high-risk high-reward junk bonds in 2019. This is all… an absurd amount of money, one that I have trouble even theorizing as being able to be tangible. Still, I can’t help but feel like it’s “interesting economics” to chase down tons of debt with tons of spending, and I can’t help but feel like it’s a tacit admission to some of the pressure Netflix is facing from its new competitors? Right?

Wrong, I guess. In 2019, Netflix still nabbed the majority of content watched on TV, earning 25% of the market share to basic cable’s 18%, broadcast TV’s 17%, and YouTube’s 13%. Netflix also has big plans to increase their international appeal, making content for specific regions like Korea that BMO’s Dan Salmon called “a stepping stone to scaling subs in one of [the Asia Pacific region’s] wealthiest and largest addressable markets.” Salmon goes on to cool down the heat of a so-called battle for streaming attention: “We continue to believe the ‘streaming wars’ narrative is false and there will be multiple winners in global streaming.”

Will Netflix’s big money pay off? Keep watching their 2020 stuff to see. And check out our reviews of new Netflix series like Medical Police and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. Plus: here’s every original film they’re releasing in 2020.