Netflix is an outlier in the modern media industry and has long bucked the trend of making regular and splashy acquisitions to spur growth.
In a shareholder letter from July 2021, the company talked about its acquisition strategy, revealing that it has been picky. The streaming giant admitted that while it was evaluating opportunities at the time, it hadn’t seen any "must-have" assets.
Netflix's slower and less flashy approach to aquisition flies in the face of rivals like Amazon, which recently bought MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, or even Disney, which spent big billions to add Marvel and Lucasfilm to its lengthy list of subsidiaries. By contrast Netflix's largest purchase totaled a bit over $700 million.
Many of these media acquisitions are IP-driven and are aimed at adding globally-known franchises (like James Bond or Star Wars) to their company’s content catalog and streaming services.
Netflix has been able to avoid the need for many big-name acquisitions in part due to its investmets in original content, including a recent $700 million investment in expanding its production facilities in South Korea. These investments have resulted in a regular cadence of successful original content like Bridgerton, Stranger Things, and Squid Game — the South Korean series is the company's most successful to date and is credited with an uptick in subscriber growth.
Recently, Netflix has made headlines for the smash hit show as well as news of two acquisitions, almost doubling its M&A number. Given the news, we got curious, what companies does Netflix own?
Roald Dahl Story Co.
Roald Dahl Story Co. is the legacy of the synonymous storyteller and as of September 2021 is Netflix’s latest acquisition. The more than $700 million purchase is Netflix’s largest to date and provides the streaming service with access to Dahl’s characters and stories that it can in turn leverage to create more original TV shows and movies. Among Dahl's works are children's classics like James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The BFG.
Night School Studio
Another recent acquisition by Netflix is video game developer Night School Studio, whih it also bought in September 2021. The company was founded in 2014 by Sean Krankel and Adam Hines and is known for its debut game called Oxenfree, which is "a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift." The purchase provides Netflix with more video game IP to turn into streaming content (similar to how it adapted The Witcher into TV series). Additionally, the video game developer could play into the company’s plans to launch a video game streaming service.
The StoryBots franchise's inaugural original TV series, Ask the StoryBots, premiered on Netflix in August 2016. Just three years later Netflix bought the media franchise for kids 3 to 8 years old in 2019 and signed co-creators Evan and Gregg Spiridellis to an exclusive producing deal to expand its educational content. StoryBots has been quiet since the release of its third season in 2019, however, a job posting for a storyboard artist spotted by What’s on Netflix has revealed the production company could be working on season four now.
In 2018, Netflix spent $30 million to buy Albuquerque Studios (ABQ Studios), a New Mexico-based production company, for its facilities in 2018. The studio has served as the primary filming location for many of Netflix’s original movies and shows, including Stranger Things season four. In 2020, the company further outlined its plans to spend $1 billion to further expand the site and its staff in the coming years.
Netflix announced its acquisition of comic book publisher Millarworld in 2017. Founded by Mark Millar, Millarworld is the creator of popular properties like Kick-Ass and Kingsman (which were not included in the deal as they were already were bought by Lionsgate and Disney's 20th Century Fox) and provided the company with access to a wealth of franchises to adapt into films and series. Earlier this year Netflix released its first title adapted from Millarworld, titled Jupiter’s Legacy, and has at least 11 other projects in development.