Netflix purchases Roald Dahl rights for $686 million

·4 min read

Coming soon to Netflix: all the Roald Dahl characters your inner child desires.

The streaming giant recently paid a lofty 500 million pounds — about $686 million — for rights to the British author’s entire catalogue, according to the Financial Times. The deal gives the platform the ability to develop Dahl’s characters and stories, which include beloved books “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda,” and “The Witches.”

It’s all part of Netflix’s push to become the dominant force in streaming in a race against other titans like Hulu, Amazon, and HBO.

And while nine-figure price tags are certainly lofty numbers for consumers to wrap their heads around, it’s merely a drop in the entertainment bucket considering Netflix will likely spend somewhere around $17 billion on content in 2021 alone, according to Variety. Other platforms are shelling out the big bucks, too, and essentially hedging bets on which stories will net more subscribers once their efforts make it to the screen.

Here’s a look at what tales streaming platforms are going all in on, and how much it’s costing them.

Amazon acquires “Lord of the Rings” and MGM

Amazon is estimated to spend $650 million on one season of its upcoming J.R.R. Tolkien TV series, which is already in production in New Zealand, Radio New Zealand reported in April. The series will take place thousands of years before “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” and is scheduled to premiere Sept. 2, 2022. Amazon reportedly spent $250 million for the TV rights for Tolkien’s fantasy universe, back in 2017.

Actor Daniel Craig attends a photo call to promote his latest film
Actor Daniel Craig attends a photo call to promote his latest film "Casino Royale" at a Madrid hotel November 20, 2006. REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN)

In May, Amazon agreed to buy MGM in a deal valued at $8.45 billion, according to CNN, gaining access to a library of more than 4,000 films and 17,000 TV shows, including the ever-growing world of James Bond. However, the Federal Trade Commission is currently reviewing the proposed deal, which has yet to be finalized.

NBC Pays Big Bucks For “The Office”

THE OFFICE --
THE OFFICE -- "The Meeting" Episode 602 -- Pictured: (l-r) John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Steve Carell as Michael Scott -- Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

For years, NBC’s “The Office” had found a home on Netflix until it left the platform on Dec. 31, 2021. NBC pulled the hit series off Netflix to give it a new home on Peacock, NBC’s new streaming service, outbidding Netflix’s $90 million per year offer streaming rights, CNBC reported. Through 2025, NBC will pay $100 million to hold streaming rights for the show, according to CNBC.

Netflix reportedly pays big sums of money for “Seinfeld”

SEINFELD -- Season 5 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer  (Photo by George Lange/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
SEINFELD -- Season 5 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer (Photo by George Lange/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

When it sought the rights to stream all 180 episodes of “Seinfeld” globally, Netflix apparently wasn’t worried about how much it would cost. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2019 that an anonymous source close to the deal said Netflix spent more than $500 million for the show.

Walt Disney spends billions on film studios and four major universes

Long before comic enthusiasts depended on streaming services for constant content, Disney began buying up creative powerhouses. It started with Pixar in 2006, shelling out $7.4 billion for the film studio and its animated universes. 

Then, Disney paid $4 billion for Marvel, gaining access to thousands of comic book heroes like Captain America, Black Panther, and Iron Man. Just three years later, Disney dropped another $4 billion on LucasFilm, which was the production company behind “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.” In 2019, Disney went all in on Fox, and spent $71.3 billion on its entertainment assets, which included “The Simpsons.”

WarnerMedia drops $425 million for “Friends”

When Netflix dropped the ball on “Friends,” WarnerMedia was right behind it to pick it up, spending $425 million for U.S. streaming rights in 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times, where it was used to entice subscribers to HBO Max. In 2015, Netflix paid $100 million for streaming rights to the popular ‘90s sitcom, according to CNBC.

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