Video streaming & rental service Netflix is flush with the critical praise and viewers its first forays into original programming are bringing in, and are already thinking of expanding their production slate.
Personally, I say go for it.
But what should they make?
They're already considering making original movies (good idea), news programming (bad idea), and talk shows (so-so idea).
Original movies are a fine and dandy idea. Netflix can either acquire independently made films for broadcast, or develop and produce them in house. If they keep an eye out for quality, and keep costs down they can do pretty well out of it.
News is a different story. There are so many cable and network news outlets the competition is cutthroat and setting up a television news operation from scratch would be prohibitively expensive.
However, that doesn't mean they can't be topical. A broad selection of documentary programming can be either made or obtained inexpensively, and if sold well can find an audience. Just remember that I'm suggesting a broad selection of documentaries. Only deliver one sided lectures and you'll end up offending one side of the political fence and boring the other. Audiences love it when differing opinions clash and having their own challenged with reasoned arguments.
Talk shows are a tricky beast. TV history is littered with the corpses of failed talk shows. If Netflix is going to do it, they must avoid doing anything that a mainstream network or syndicated show might do. I'm talking going for niche target audiences, more long form discussions involving interesting people and topics.
So what else can Netflix look into?
SKETCH COMEDY: Nowadays network television cannot do sketch comedy if their life depended on it. A lot of sketch on cable aims to be "topical" which means that it will be "dated" about a day after its debut. However, it can be made cheaply, and a cruise through YouTube shows that there is a wealth of talent out there waiting to be cruelly exploited.
I would suggest a show featuring rotating groups of sketch performers recruited either on-line, or through an aggressive talent hunt. To help promote the shows include sample sketches as "Bonus Features" on comedy programming aimed at similar target demographics, and release them via the YouTube and other sites.
LITERARY ADAPTATIONS: This is an offshoot of the original movies and miniseries idea. There are loads of books, and book series that can be adapted into movies, miniseries, or even full series that don't because dealing with most of the studios and the mainstream networks is just too gruelling and unsatisfying.
Make that experience creatively fulfilling and financially fair and you could become the first choice for all the big best-sellers for less than what the studios pay out.
Those are some of my ideas, what are yours?