Netflix isn’t the only OTT video service with an eye turned toward world domination. Over-the-top service Crackle is looking to make a name for itself in a digital content space that is increasing in stature. Sure, success has been sweet for Netflix’s Emmy-nominated original series House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. But some scrappy upstarts, like Crackle, are also making a name for themselves.
While its original programming is not as critically acclaimed as Netflix’s, the Sony Entertainment- owned, ad-supported digital service continues to build its lineup with scripted dramas such as Cleaners and Chosen, as well as reality series such as the Emmy-nominated, Jerry Seinfeld- produced Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The company has high hopes for a third scripted series, Sequestered, a drama that follows the actions of a jury in a high-profile murder trial.
Crackle general manger and Sony Pictures Television executive vice president Eric Berger spoke with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about the OTT service’s original programming strategy. An edited transcript follows.
MCN: How many scripted shows is Crackle planning to distribute this year?
Eric Berger: By the end of the year, we will have had three scripted series on Crackle: Chosen, which launched all episodes April 15; Sequestered, which launched the first six episodes Aug. 5, with the remaining six airing on Oct. 14; and Cleaners, premiering all 12 episodes on Aug. 19.
MCN: Will you stay in the drama category or look to offer sitcoms?
EB: We are always looking for new ideas and are open to programming in a variety of genres. We have some unique and exciting scripted comedies in development that you’ll hear about soon.
MCN: How do you determine whether a scripted show is a hit?
EB: We look at the size of the audience and the number of streams, but we also look at how many people watching are new to Crackle, how many complete the series and how many go on to watch other content on Crackle.
MCN: Has the success of Netflix and its multiple Emmy nominations encouraged Crackle to develop more original content?
EB: Certainly we are all looking to develop great content for consumers and we champion the success of our competitors because it ultimately means that the digital space is evolving and becoming more and more prominent when it comes to original programming. We were lucky enough to be nominated for an Emmy once again this year for our hit series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, starring Jerry Seinfeld. We are thrilled that big talent is coming to Crackle: Jerry Seinfeld, Bryan Cranston, Dan Patrick and Jeremy Renner, to name a few.
MCN: What goes into determining whether to air all episodes of a series at one time or to offer a few over a period of time?
EB: This is determined on a case-by-case basis. For our scripted shows, we like to air all episodes at once so viewers can binge-watch. With Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, we decided to keep it as a weekly format to build anticipation for the next episode. We also just announced Sports Jeopardy! With Dan Patrick, which will be a live show airing weekly for 52 weeks per year — this will be the first of its kind for a digital network.