Why Netflix is partnering with Goop and its controversies

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Netflix debuted a trailer on Monday for its latest original series, “The Goop Lab,” and even though the six-episode series doesn’t premiere until later this month, it’s already causing controversy.

Goop, for the uninitiated, is actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle content and retail brand which was valued at an estimated $250 million in 2018. The brand has garnered a fair share of criticism regarding some of its products and health claims and was even hit with penalties for “unsubstantiated claims” two years ago.

In its brief trailer, “The Goop Lab” appears to be embracing the controversy rather than avoiding it. The trailer teases Paltrow and her team, talking about everything from energy healing to psychedelics to exorcisms. Netflix describes the series as “a revelatory look at the boundary-pushing theories that can transform our mental, physical, and emotional wellness.”

The show hasn’t premiered yet, so it’s tough to know more details. But even so, why would Netflix want to partner with a brand that has such controversy surrounding it? Well, controversy may be a selling point, according to Zak Shaikh, vice president of programming and entertainment at research-based media firm, Magid.

“Netflix and streaming services at large haven’t had the same level of success with unscripted content that they have with scripted series,” Shaikh told CNN Business. “Perhaps they see partnering with a somewhat controversial brand as a way to get that attention.”

Shaikh also pointed out that controversial subjects have less of an impact on Netflix than traditional television because the streaming service’s business model is based on subscribers rather than ads from companies, which might not want to be associated with Goop.

“While it’s clear the reasons brands may want to disassociate themselves with controversial shows, subscribers tend to choose a platform based on what they want, not what they don’t want,” he said. “In the customized and very crowded programming menu that you see on Netflix, it’s possible that those subscribers who might potentially be put off by Goop, may not even see it in their menu.”

Paltrow’s star power could also be a factor for Netflix.

The 47-year-old actress is an Oscar winner who has starred in prestige dramas like “Shakespeare in Love” as well as Marvel blockbusters like “Avengers: Endgame.” She also appears on another original Netflix series, “The Politician,” in which she stars and executive produces. Her name recognition is another way for the streamer to rope in potential subscribers.

As for Paltrow and Goop, there are 158.3 million reasons to partner with Netflix. Despite a deluge of new streaming services like Apple TV+ and Disney+ in recent months, Netflix is still the premiere name in streaming with 158.3 million subscribers worldwide.

“We’re always trying to expand our footprint and expand our audience and when the opportunity to do this show came up we thought it was really an incredible manifestation of taking our content out to a different platform,” Paltrow told CNBC on Monday. “It’s off our channel and on this massive channel.”

Paltrow also told CNBC that Goop has learned from past mistakes.

“I think when we were a little startup and we didn’t know about claims and regulatory issues, we made a few mistakes back in the early days, but for over a year now, we’ve had an incredibly robust and brilliant science and regulatory team in house,” she said. “We’re very focused, of course, on backing up the things that we talk about with scientific claims when necessary or being able to say like, ‘Hey, this is just for your entertainment.”

Netflix declined to comment on this story.

In an email statement to CNN Business, a spokesperson for Goop wrote, “It’s a shame that many of the things Goop discusses are considered controversial, such as female sexual health, when the goal is really to push the culture forward. Many of the experts interviewed on The Goop Lab are doctors and research scientists from leading medical institutions, which people will realize when they actually see the show on January 24.”

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