Netflix and SiriusXM team up to create a comedy radio channel

Chris Rock performs in his Netflix stand-up special "Chris Rock: Tamborine."

Netflix will launch a comedy radio channel with satellite radio provider SiriusXM next year, marking the streaming video company’s first foray into audio and the latest expansion of its comedy empire.

The channel will feature audio-only versions of Netflix comedy specials as well as content developed exclusively for the station, SiriusXM President Scott Greenstein said in a statement. The companies hope to launch the channel by January, he said.

The deal would add to SiriusXM’s roster of comedy radio stations and give the satellite radio company access to Netflix’s growing library of comedy content, which includes Netflix-produced specials from such big names as Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Silverman.

Stand-up comedy specials have become a competitive strength for Netflix, which has managed to lure A-list names away from competitors such as HBO.


Greenstein said Netflix-produced comedy specials would become “the backbone of our new SiriusXM/Netflix channel” but that new programming is also in the works.

“We look forward to creating one-of-a-kind exclusive original comedy programming with existing and new Netflix talent,” he said.

The SiriusXM channel, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, would give Netflix another outlet for its comedy content, which it has spent top dollar to produce. The company has shelled out millions of dollars to attract Rock and other acts away from HBO, the longtime home of big-name comedy specials.

Putting all that content on SiriusXM could amount to a savvy marketing move for Netflix, said Andy Hargreaves, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets who follows both companies.

Netflix, he said, actually has too much content — more movies, TV shows and comedy specials than any individual subscriber can wade through. If subscribers can’t find what they want amid an overabundance of options, they might cancel.

That’s why the company’s algorithm for personalized recommendations is such a big deal: It helps make sure subscribers know about items that might interest them. And a SiriusXM station, Hargreaves said, could accomplish the same thing.

“If you have other ways to make people aware of stuff that is on Netflix already, that helps reinforce the value of the service,” he said. “This is another way for you to promote awareness of what’s on Netflix, and without cannibalizing anything.”

Netflix representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Los Gatos, Calif., streaming company just came off a disappointing second quarter in which it saw new subscriptions fall short of expectations. New customers are a key metric for success because they are an indicator of future cash flow.

Netflix, which is facing rising competition from Amazon, Hulu and other rivals, reported earlier this week that it added 5.2 million members during the period — the same as last year’s quarter — but less than the 6.2 million it forecast.

The company said it has 130.1 million subscribers worldwide, with 57.4 million members in the U.S.

Twitter: @jrkoren

Staff writer David Ng contributed to this report.


10:15 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details about Netflix’s recent second-quarter results.

This article was originally published at 9:40 a.m.