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Why Putting ‘Chelsea Lately’ on Netflix Is a Horrible Idea

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The Chelsea Handler to Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  )  rumors have been flying ever since the television personality mentioned the possibility to Howard Stern a few weeks ago. Despite what my colleague Daniel Kline thinks, I believe it's an awful idea if significant changes aren't made. Here's why.

It goes against Netflix's bread and butter
Netflix has said no to live shows before, and it shouldn't make an exception for Handler. It's true her talk show audience is more than 10 years younger than those that watch Letterman, Kimmel, and Fallon, but that's a moot point.

Over 60% of Netflix viewers "binge regularly," according to Harris, and as shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black have proven, the streaming service is at its best when content is delivered in bulk form. 

"Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Deadline last year.

This strategy has worked well for the company. Just last quarter, for instance, it added 4 million global subscribers, and now has over 44 million. Although an eight-figure Handler deal wouldn't break the bank in terms of content costs -- Netflix says it will spend over $6 billion through 2016 -- it would lower the number of purchases that could be made elsewhere. Say, on something more binge-worthy. I can only imagine what an irked Frank Underwood might say if Netflix went against its bread and butter.


Why it won't work in its current form
That's not the only reason I think Netflix should stay away. Assuming she was talking about Chelsea Lately on Howard Stern, that simply wouldn't work. A 30-minute show, Lately airs daily Monday through Friday. And like its peers, the show covers recent pop culture news. On Netflix, this format -- relying on current events -- makes binge-viewing impossible. 

Remember, the company doesn't ignore certain types of stand-up comedy. Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, and Louis C.K. are just a few of the acts in Netflix's library, and often, evergreen comedies are some of the most binge-able pieces of content.

The key question
But what if Handler is willing to tailor her product for Netflix? How could she deliver stale-proof spoofs to the audience? The Chelsea Handler Show, a weekly sketch comedy show on E! that ended in 2006, may provide the blueprint.

Although the mini-series gave way to Chelsea Lately one year later, its format, which relied less on current events and more on a mixture of stand-up, shorts, and spoofs, might work on Netflix. In its brief stint, The Chelsea Handler Show explored a variety of storylines including "Chelsea goes between the sheets to figure out the real deal on one-night stands," "Chelsea picnics with a group of B-level celebs," and even a lesson on how to use a stripper pole. I've watched it, and liken it to a hybrid of shows like 30 Rock and Key & Peele

The bottom line 
Like Mr. Kline says, Handler may be looking for "creative freedom" in a new deal. And if Netflix gives it to her, she'd be smart to consider reimagining her old sketch comedy series.

In its current form, though, I'd be very hesitant to give Chelsea Lately the green light. A show centered on recent pop culture news does not mesh with a streaming platform geared toward binge viewers.

To read Daniel's take, click here.

As the rise of Netflix illustrates, cable's eventually going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple. 


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Jake Mann

Jake Mann covers sports, economics and politics for the Motley Fool.

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