Netflix’s Latest Original Programming Bet: Horror Series ‘Hemlock Grove’

Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) is eager to steer its core business away from mere movie rentals to an operation that resembles, to some degree, premium cable television. But that requires developing and acquiring more original programming.
Taking another step in that direction, Netflix said Wednesday that it will add a 13-episode horror-suspense drama from filmmaker Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds, Hostel, Cabin Fever) to its streaming service starting in early 2013. Hemlock Grove will be a monster-themed murder mystery, set in a Pennsylvania steel town. Based on a novel by Brian McGreevy, the series will star Famke Janssen (from Fox’s X-Men movies) and Bill Skarsgard, and will be produced by Gaumont International Television.
Hemlock Grove is a sly blend of J.D. Salinger and Mary Shelley and will appeal to a broad base of fans captivated by these rich characters and stunning visuals,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, in a statement.
HBO and Showtime are edging onto Netflix’s streaming turf with HBO Go and Showtime Anytime, while Netflix is reportedly looking to venture into the realm of premium cable by getting into the bundles of cable, satellite and telco TV service providers. As it does that, it is trying to create more original content. Last month, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company launched its first original, Lilyhammer, a tongue-in-cheek mobster-fish-out-of-water dramedy starring Steve Van Zandt (The Sopranos).
Yet to debut on its service, Netflix is paying a reported $100 million to launch a David Fincher/Kevin Spacey-produced remake of a British political drama, House of Cards, and its re-launching Fox’s critically loved but long-since-cancelled comedy Arrested Development. Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) drama/comedy Orange Is the New Black is also queued up for release on Netflix, and the service is talking to Fox (NSDQ: NWS) about continuing another cancelled show, the ambitious fantasy drama Terra Nova.
As Variety reported Wednesday, last year Netflix increased the fees it pays producers and studios to license video content to $3.9 billion, up from $1.12 billion in 2010. Still, Netflix executives say the outlay for originals is a single digit percentage of that $3.9 billion pie.
Netflix, of course, isn’t the only Silicon Valley-based company signing deals for original content with big-name Hollywood producers, with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) on Wednesday also announcing that it’s teaming with CSI creator Anthony Zuiker to create a for-digital motion picture focused on cyber crime called Cybergeddon.