Why Matt Groening + Netflix Is Important

If you haven’t read the news that Netflix is reportedly making an animated Matt Groening show – this is huge.  It’s huge for Netflix – assuming Matt Groening has chosen to not partner with Fox, who has a proven (albeit currently traditional) distribution network, and greenlit / fostered both of his past hit shows. 


Photo by Gage Skidmore

With this, Netflix will be getting some original, high quality, primetime animation content – something Netflix is missing currently.  It’s huge for the animation industry – likely getting its first big hit digital distribution platform animated show.  It is also huge for Matt Groening.  This could give him a running start at making the first animated primetime hit for the digital distribution era.

Why Matt Groening?

Everyone knows Matt Groening is probably the biggest, most prolific tv animation creator that has ever lived.  How can anyone make 2 very different animated primetime series and make both series into hits and then make those series air for over 10 and 20 years respectively?  If you knew the secret, you would be as successful as Matt Groening. 

It’s incredibly difficult to have two hit comedy shows, let alone two primetime hit shows, let alone 2 primetime animated comedy hit shows.  Simpsons set the standard for modern primetime sitcom style animation, so why not go to the top and get the best creator in the industry?  (A better question is how did they get Groening to say yes? ) 

This could set the standard for a new digital era of primetime animation content, and Netflix (and Groening) would be at the forefront.  Matt Groening doesn’t need Netflix, he could go anywhere to sell his next show – but he’s smart for moving to a digital platform. 

Content distribution is in the process of being upended and traditional pay tv (cable / dish) is on a steady decline without any foreseeable change in the near future.  Digital distribution isn’t just a cute story anymore; Amazon and Netflix are aggressively winning awards.

Sure, we don’t have viewership ratings /  numbers for Netflix (something they don’t release – or need to), but it’s a safe bet that this new series has a good chance to be a hit.  Matt Groening might get to set the new standard for the next generation of primetime animation by putting out his Netflix show.


Photo by Brickset

Why Netflix?

There is two things that Netflix needs and they go hand in hand:  new, original content and more subscribers.  This show can achieve both if they go for another wide demographic show similar to the Simpsons.  Licensed content is great, but it only can take the platform so far. 

Also consider licensing deal issues and increased licensing costs as distribution companies try to squeeze every last dollar out of properties in a post dvd era.  It’s a mess and licensed content is volatile and temporary.  Original series and movies are becoming the anchors of the new Netflix brand, and Netflix has shown what they need right now is an anchor for primetime animation.

There have already been amazing, award winning animated hits in children’s (with Amazon’s Tumble Leaf) and adults (with Netflix’s Bojack Horseman), but those are both fairly narrow demographics.  Bringing out a creator like Groening could be the equivalent of House of Cards for primetime animation on digital distribution platforms. 

Now that the stage has been set, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see other big primetime animation creators (Parker & Stone, MacFarlane) follow suit either with Amazon, Hulu, Youtube, Apple, Netflix, or anyone aggressively competing in digital distribution.

Matt Groening doing another series anywhere is great – it’s great for the fans and great for the animation industry.  It’s a huge win for Netflix to get the biggest tv animation creator, and this has an excellent chance at making another animated hit series under the Netflix banner.  Netflix is bringing out the big guns yet again.

Author: Nate Funaro

Animation producer / dog rescuer / cocktail maker based in Los Angeles

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