Netflix Said to Renew Women’s Prison Comedy Before Debut

Netflix Inc., the leading online subscription-video service, ordered more episodes of the exclusive prison comedy series “Orange Is the New Black” before the program’s debut.

“We’re eager to get a second season to our viewers,” Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content at Los Gatos, California-based Netflix, said yesterday in a statement. Work on the show, produced by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., will begin this summer.

The renewal highlights the confidence Netflix has in original and exclusive content to win and keep subscribers. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in May at a conference in New York the company is spending around 5 percent of its $2 billion annual content budget on originals, and aims for as much as 15 percent within the next few years. The company is also upgrading its technology to make finding programs easier.

“Orange Is the New Black” is from Jenji Kohan, creator of the Showtime program “Weeds.” The series is based on the memoir of a young communications executive sentenced to women’s prison for drug trafficking and becomes available on Netflix July 11.

Netflix mixes exclusive and first-run programs, along with a library of films and TV shows, in an Internet streaming service that costs $7.99 a month, competing with services offered by Inc. and Hulu LLC.

On May 26, customers could begin streaming the revived Fox TV show “Arrested Development” on the Netflix service. The company released the Kevin Spacey series “House of Cards” on Feb. 1 during the first quarter. Netflix had more than 36 million streaming customers in 40 countries as of March 31.

‘Max’ Guide

Netflix rose 1.4 percent to $214.97 yesterday in New York. The stock has more than doubled this year and is the second best performer in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this year behind Best Buy Co.

The company announced today that U.S. subscribers who use the service on Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 game consoles will get access to a talking program guide. Called “Max,” the guide is billed as a talking concierge that uses game-like queries based on themes to let people choose movies and shows.

Subscribers click on the “Max” panel, hear a short tune and listen to a male voice that looks through a user’s history and offers categories such as “robots or magic?” to offer viewing options.

Max eventually will be expanded beyond the PlayStation to Apple Inc. iPads and other devices, said Todd Yellin, vice president of product innovation at Netflix.

Netflix is “weeks away” from introducing individual user accounts that will let people in a household keep separate lists of show recommendations and items they want to watch, Yellin said in an interview.

“We were doing great personalization at a household level, now we want to do it at a user level,” Yellin said. “The better we get at personalization, the better we are at targeting our different Netflix originals, the better we are at curating our content and becoming a cost-efficient programmer.”

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