The Major Change Netflix Is Planning With Its Original Programming In 2017

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Netflix had a big year in 2016 with new shows like Luke Cage, The Crown, and Stranger Things. The streaming service has tackled just about every genre of scripted TV, and plans are in place to spend even more money on new scripted series for 2017. As it turns out, 2017 will also be a big year for Netflix in another way: It will see Netflix adding a whole lot of unscripted shows to its TV library.

Subscribers can look forward to no less than 20 new unscripted series hitting the web in 2017. The Netflix team is working to produce shows that are especially likely to appeal to international audiences, and unscripted/reality programs are considered pretty safe bets for traffic from viewers all over the world. All in all, the 2017 lineup will more than double the 1000 hours of original programming from 2016, and it looks look unscripted content will play a large part in the increase.

The 20 new series number was revealed by Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos to Variety, and it marks a major departure from the company line of May 2015 when Sarandos explained that they weren't interested in producing reality shows. At the time, unscripted series were considered "disposable" and lacking a "long shelf life." There were no plans in place then to dabble in reality. It seems that the shifting TV culture of the past couple of years has convinced Netflix execs that the time is right to jump into unscripted entertainment.

Netflix announced its first reality series earlier in 2016 when action star Sylvester Stallone and The Biggest Loser executive producer David Broome signed on to produce a show called Ultimate Beastmaster, which will pit contestants from all over the world against each other in brutal obstacle courses. At that point, Netflix gave no indication that Ultimate Beastmaster would be only one of many new unscripted projects.

It's not a huge surprise that Netflix is dabbling in a new genre. Data indicates that users rate original content higher than syndicated content, 94% of subscribers report satisfaction with the service despite price increases, and the average subscriber streams more than 550 hours of content per year. Netflix has been pouring funds into new originals, borrowing money amounting to more than $3 billion to produce as many originals as soon as possible for audiences looking for more than syndicated content out of their Netflix subscription.

For those who aren't necessarily excited by the news of 20 unscripted series, fear not. Netflix has even more scripted projects in the works for 2017. As of now, Netflix has 30 original scripted shows in development. Shows like A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Iron Fist, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be available for viewing at some point in the new year. Check out our 2017 Netflix premiere schedule to see what dates have been set for new and returning series next year. Don't forget to take a look at our midseason 2017 premiere schedule to see what else will debut on the small screen in the not-too-distant future.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).