Ricky Gervais’ new comedy series Derek, which recently completed the filming of its first season, is the subject of an exclusive deal with Netflix, with the online streaming provider set to serve as the first-run source for the sitcom in every market in which it operates (barring the UK & Ireland region, where the series will air first on free-to-air network Channel 4).
Commissioned in April by Channel 4 following a one-off special premiered in London (England) for BAFTA and later shown to the highest Channel 4 audience for a scripted comedy for two years, the series is set to make its full debut in the UK region at some point in 2013.
Following that launch, the series will become an online exclusive (with the possible exception of Channel 4’s 4oD service) to Netflix UK & Ireland, before expanding onto the Netflix franchises in the USA, Canada, Latin America, and Scandinavia, giving viewers in those markets their first opportunity to watch the show through online streaming.
Gervais said of signing the agreement with the American company: “Netflix is the future. TV habits have already changed drastically over the last 10 years and this is the next phase. People want their favourite shows on demand whether they are home-grown or not. As an artist you want the fruits of your labour to be seen by the largest number of people possible without having to compromise the product. This deal gave me the freedom and the huge potential viewers of the internet but the production values of film and TV. They also made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Come on, an artist gotta eat man.”
Netflix’s ‘chief content officer’ Ted Sarandos added: “We are thrilled to be working again with Ricky. We were the first online subscription service to licence The Office several years ago and this brings us full circle.”
While Derek courted some perhaps undeserved initial controversy surrounding its lead character, the presence of Ricky Gervais will be likely to give it a fairly strong ratings showing when it arrives on Channel 4 next year, but how will it fare with Netflix’s 27m global subcribers, in an online market that the show’s creator is well-practiced in?