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Netflix is ​​changing the way it pays for certain stand-up comics, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Basically, instead of buying a comedy special with a big lump sum, the streaming service will rent it out for a few years and then return it to the comedian. A Netflix spokesperson told ‘Marketplace’ that this is just an “additional alternative avenue for comedians to work with Netflix, in response to the current market.”

Back when it was rapidly growing its subscriber base, Netflix was spending lavishly on comics like Dave Chappelle and Ali Wong. Not to mention nine-figure offers for showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy. So, does this model still work now that it’s losing subscribers?

Back in 2017, when Netflix lured Rhimes away from the streaming world, the strategy wasn’t just about acquiring new hit dramas like “Bridgerton.”

It was all about making you believe that Netflix was synonymous with new hit dramas like “Bridgerton.”

“What Netflix did was really smart in terms of paying a bunch of showrunners and a bunch of talent to create original Netflix programming that then built the Netflix brand,” said Michael Smith, professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon.

Wall Street agreed with that. Netflix kept getting big names, subscriptions kept rolling in, you kept watching “Stranger Things.” Everybody was happy.

But if Netflix did a nine-figure Shonda Rhimes-style deal right now, Wall Street would have questions, Bank of America analyst Nat Schindler said.

“I think Wall Street would look at it with a lot of skepticism. People are looking for them to actually cut spending.

For a time, Netflix has cornered the prestigious streaming TV market and has nurtured close ties with the talent that created it.

But now it has deep-pocketed competitors like Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Apple.

Charles Schreger of New York University said serialized dramas are really the bread and butter of streaming.

Which means we’ll always see news of nine-figure deals for people creating the most popular.

“There is a shortage, there is a shortage,” he said. “You don’t make these people.”

Hmmm… wondering if now is a good time to dust off my spec script.

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