The Four Types of Netflix Originals

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Since the very first release of the Netflix Original House of Cards, Netflix has continued to expand its library exponentially. Now almost 6 years later, Netflix is expected to hit the 1000 mark for original content in their US library within the next few months. But has Netflix ever defined what they mean by “Original” content? Here’s our guide to what to expect when you see the term “Netflix Original.”

Netflix Originals have always had a mixed reception from audiences from around the world. While some content has been turned into memes due to their poor quality, on the opposite end of the spectrum you have highly critically acclaimed shows such as The Crown and Stranger Things. There is a massive disparity between the most critically acclaimed shows and the worst shows under the “Original” banner.

John Lithgow as Winston Churchill in ‘The Crown.’ The show has won multiple awards including a Golden Globe for Best Television Series. (Image: Robert Viglasky/Netflix)

What is a Netflix Original?

A “Netflix Original” is defined by the status Netflix gives to the show. This may be defined by the following:

  • Netflix commissioned and produced the show
  • Netflix has exclusive international streaming rights to the show
  • Netflix has co-produced the show with another Network
  • It is a continuation of a previously canceled show

In most cases, a show is defined as a “Netflix Original” if you can only watch it on Netflix in your respective country.

What is a true Netflix Original?

A true “Netflix Original” is any show that was commissioned, produced and distributed by Netflix. By this, we mean the show or film has not been made to appear on any network other than Netflix. (Some films have debuted at festivals and purchased prior to Netflix release.) Examples of this are the following:

Title Original Release Date Film/TV Show IMDB Rating
House of Cards 02 January 2013 TV Show 8.9
The Fundamentals of Caring 24 June 2016 Film 7.3
Stranger Things 15 July 2016 TV Show 8.9
The Crown 04 November 2016 TV Show 8.7
Ozark 21 July 2017 TV Show 8.4
Gerald’s Game 29 September 2017 Film 6.6
The Babysitter 13 October 2017 Film 6.3
Apostle 12 October 2018 Film 6.4

As seen in the table above some of the most popular titles in Netflix history are true Netflix Originals. All of the above will be streamed internationally to every territory where Netflix is available.

Internationally Exclusive Originals

An “internationally exclusive Original” is defined by whether or not the particular show or film is available outside of Netflix. Additionally, Netflix would have not been the network that commisioned the show. The best examples are the following:

Title Network Original Region Netflix Exclusive Region
The Good Place NBC United States Australia, Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom etc.
Bodyguard BBC One United Kingdom All other regions except Ireland
Peaky Blinders BBC One United Kingdom United States, Italy, Portugal, and the Czech Republic
Black Lightning The CW United States All other regions

Films that Netflix has exclusive rights to are presented as “Netflix Original Films” instead of an “Original.” The best examples are the following:

Title Genre Netflix Exclusive Region
David Brent: Life on the Road Comedy Worldwide except for United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand
The Foreigner Action/Thriller United Kingdom
The Hitman’s Bodyguard Action/Comedy Japan
Operation Finale Drama Worldwide except for the U.S.A


Co-Produced Netflix Originals

A “co-produced Netflix Original” is when Netflix partners with a network in a particular country to exclusively distribute to other regions outside of the parent country. The best examples of this are the following:

Title Partner/Country Netflix Exclusive Region
Frontier Discovery/Canada All other markets
Lilyhammer NRK/Norway Worldwide
Troy: Fall of a City BBC One/United Kingdom All other markets except Ireland
Mob Psycho TV Tokyo/Japan Worldwide


Netflix Originals Produced By Other Companies but Solely Distributed

You’ve also got lots of instances where Netflix buys in shows from other providers. Good examples of this is shows like The Sandman bought in from Warner Brothers, Orange is the New Black from Lionsgate TV or The Umbrella Academy from NBCUniversal.

You’ve also got many instances where Netflix has continued a show which is when Netflix picks up a series that a network has previously canceled, thus picking up the production and distribution of the show.

The reason why we’ve split this into a separate category is that Netflix may not necessarily own the long-term rights for these shows. For example, Marvel’s Daredevil was a Netflix Original globally but because it was produced by Disney, they were able to pull it away from Netflix.

The best examples of these are the following:

Title Previous Network Canceled at Season? What seasons did Netflix produce? Netflix Exclusive Region
Arrested Development FOX 3 4 & 5 Unites States, Canada, Latin America, Western Europe
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Cartoon Network 5 6 Worldwide
Black Mirror Channel 4 2 3 & 4 Worldwide
Lucifer FOX 3 4 (2019 Release) Worldwide
Designated Survivor (2019) ABC 2 3 (2019 Release) Worldwide
Slasher (2018) Super Channel 2 3 (2018 Release) Worldwide
The Killing AMC 3 4 Australia and New Zealand

Has this helped you understand how Netflix defines their content? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Jacob joined What's on Netflix in 2018 as a fulltime writer having worked in numerous other industries until that point. Jacob covers all things Netflix whether that's TV or movies but specializes in covering new anime and K-dramas. Resides in Norwich in the United Kingdom.