Ah, “the good old days.” Whenever that might have been for you, chances are there’s a song, TV show or film that perfectly represents that time in your life, and Netflix wants to help consumers recapture those fond memories. The streaming service has filled its already massive video library with classic shows and films, but is taking it a step further by resurrecting beloved IPs through sequels and reboots.
“If you are like me, we grew up with a lot of 8 o’clock-hour programming—scripted programming, that people could watch together,” explained Brian Wright, Director of kids & family programming for Netflix, at the Television Critics Association conference last year. “You could feel good about it, and there were a lot of bonding opportunities between parents and kids.”
Fuller House plays a major role in that initiative for the streaming service. A continuation of the 1990s series, Full House, Fuller House follows the story of DJ Tanner-Fuller, her sister, Stephanie Tanner and best friend Kimmy Gibbler as they raise kids of their own. The show is full of references and cameos from the original series, adding to the nostalgia factor while offering something new for fans. According to data from Symphony Advanced Media, season one of Fuller House was Netflix’s highest rated original series, attracting an average audience of 7.33 million viewers in the 18 to 49 demographic in the first three days in which it was available. Thanks to its success, Fuller House will return for a third season.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life took fans back to the little town of Stars Hollow to check on mother and daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore and their modern day, coffee-fueled adventures. Nearly a decade after the final episode of Gilmore Girls, Netflix drew 5.99 million viewers in the 18 to 49 demographic in the US over the first three days it was available, according to Symphony Advanced Media.
The four-part series was meant to wrap up the story as it was originally intended, but those “final four words” left fans wanting more. Netflix is open to another season of Gilmore Girls, if creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino is interested.
“We hope [there are more installments],” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told the UK’s press association. “We obviously loved the success of the show, fans loved how well it was done, it delivered what they hoped . . . The worst thing is to wait a couple of years for your favorite show to come back and for it to disappoint you, but they sure delivered and people were really excited about more, and we have been talking to them about the possibility of that.”
Netflix’s diverse programming and lack of traditional TV format is good news for creators, as well. When Joel Hodgson, creator and former host of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) successfully crowd-funded a new season of his hit show, many networks were interested but it was Netflix that made the cut.
“I think one of the biggest reasons I’m glad we’re on Netflix is length,” Hodgson told Kickstarter backers in an email. “See, MST is a lot longer than most television shows, because each episode includes most of a cheesy feature film. Back when we were first making MST3K, that wasn’t a problem. In fact, it was really an advantage, because on KTMA, The Comedy Channel, Comedy Central and even Sci-Fi, there was a lot of unused airtime to fill up. So, having two-hour episodes was a good thing back then. But these days, broadcast and cable programming is really competitive, and it’s a lot harder to keep one show on for two hours every week.”
Hodgson wasn’t alone in his efforts to bring classic TV to Netflix—Fuller House was spearheaded by one of the original show’s stars, John Stamos. After years of rewrites and numerous production struggles, Paul Reuben was finally able to bring his film, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday exclusively to Netflix in 2016. Although not based on an existing franchise, Stranger Things—a majorly nostalga-fueled show—was turned down by a number of networks before Netflix helped it become a breakout hit.
Netflix prides itself in the diversity of its programming, something that creators appreciate when approaching the company with ideas.
“The beautiful thing about the internet is that it has ushered in a new era of television centered on delivering the best possible experience to millions of people around the world—with the singular goal of connecting people with stories they’ll love,” said Netflix VP of product, Todd Yellin in a statement. “Human beings have incredibly diverse and unique tastes—each person is more than the demographic group they belong to. At Netflix, we not only have a catalog that meets the needs of these tastes and moods, but we use our technology to ensure we surface the right story to the right person at the right moment.”
Analytics firm, Gallup, reports that economic decision making is 70 percent emotional and 30 percent rational. If classic TV franchises give you “the feels,” Netflix has plenty more shows on the way, including a Death Note live-action film this year and a Lost In Space series in 2018.