Netflix to Make U.S. Broadcast Debut With Univision Pact

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Wagner Moura, center, stars in Narcos.

Photographer: Daniel Daza/Netflix
  • Season 1 of ‘Narcos’ drama series will air later this year
  • Netflix, Univision also to co-produce ‘El Chapo’ series

Netflix Inc., the world’s largest subscription online TV network, has struck its first deal to air an original series on a U.S. broadcast network.

“Narcos,” the streaming service’s English-language series about two federal agents’ pursuit of notorious Colombian drug dealer Pablo Escobar, will air on the Univision network, according to a statement Tuesday. In addition, Netflix’s Spanish-language series “Club de Cuervos” will run on Univision sister network UniMás. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Separately, Netflix and Univision said they will co-produce a series called “El Chapo” about Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, who was arrested in January after almost six months on the run following his escape from a Mexican maximum security prison. The show will premiere on UniMás in 2017, after which it will be made available to U.S. streaming subscribers. Netflix will create the show with Univision Story House, Univision Communications Inc.’s development and production arm.

Netflix is spending billions to create its own programming to supplant traditional pay TV with on-demand streaming -- and is now experimenting with making those shows available to broadcasters. Earlier this month, French broadcaster TF1 screened the first two episodes of the Netflix original series “Marseille” in primetime.

The two deals underscore Netflix’s ambitions for international expansion, particularly in countries like Mexico. While Netflix struggled in Latin America at first due to issues with payments and lower broadband Internet adoption, the company has since touted its growth in the region.

In the U.S., meanwhile, the key to continued growth will be exciting new programs, according to Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings, who co-founded the company in 1997. Netflix has expanded its original content beyond the heady dramas and quirky comedies one finds on premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime.

The broadcasts of “Narcos” and “Club de Cuervos” will be timed to coincide with the premiere of both series’ second seasons on Netflix. “Club de Cuervos,” which debuted in August, chronicles an intrafamily battle for control of a beloved professional soccer team.

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