Chris Rock Debuts Netflix’s Very First Live-Streamed Event

Image of Chris Rock against a yellow background, performing in live comedy special for Netflix.
Photo Credit: Netflix x Semmi W.

Yes, Chris Rock finally addressed “The Slap.” Yes, he trashed Will Smith. But over the weekend, Rock also made history. With Selective Outrage, the comedian became the first entertainer to stream a live global event on Netflix. In addition to the special, Netflix arranged live pre-show and post-show events featuring comedians and celebrities like Leslie Jones, Arsenio Hall, Sir Paul McCartney, Dean Cole, Ronny Chieng, Amy Schumer, Jerry Seinfeld, and more. 

The stand-up special not only represents a new era for Netflix, but the business of entertainment. Offering live-stream deals to non-athletes for content, instead of just dropping new seasons or securing rights to tv classics sets a new standard of expectations. Concerts, speaking engagements, comedy tours, whatever gives a sense of urgency, can now be flipped into fresh, exclusive content. Entertainers stand to make money from two main audiences: those at the actual ticketed event and people who have FOMO or cannot physically attend. As of 2023, Netflix has over 230 million subscribers. Why deny them access?

Similar to Netflix Games, live-streaming is another way to remain competitive. The entertainment service is democratizing access. Live, ticketed events like Chris Rock’s special can also be viewed later, at a time more convenient to a subscriber’s schedule. 

Released just before Oscars 2023 (airing March 12), it looks like Chris Rock and Netflix are sending a message to traditional media. Slapgate videos on YouTube have received more views than the entire award show last year. And now, with Chris Rock’s latest special partly marketed as an official “answer,” Netflix will benefit too.   

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