Along with exclusive rights to Season 3 of Cobra Kai, Netflix will have access on a non-exclusive basis to the first two seasons of the show for fans to catch up. Seasons 1 and 2 of the Karate Kid sequel series, starring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, will premiere on Netflix this year, with an all-new third season to follow.
As Deadline reported last month, Cobra Kai studio Sony Pictures TV had been shopping the series, with all major streamers expressing interest. The field of suitors was eventually narrowed down, with Netflix and Hulu leading the short list of contenders. In the end, I hear Netflix’s financial commitment, massive subscriber base, global reach and passion for the material sealed the deal, making it the new home of Cobra Kai.
While the deal with Netflix is for Cobra Kai only, I hear there have been conversations between Netflix and Sony TV about potentially expanding the franchise in the future with other Karate Kid series.
Questions about the longterm future of Cobra Kai on YouTube arose when the Google-owned company in late 2018 signaled a strategic shift from a SVOD to AVOD model and away from original scripted programming to double down on unscripted fare. Every YouTube scripted original to air since then has been canceled except for Cobra Kai and Liza on Demand, starring popular YouTube personality Liza Koshy.
On the heels of a record-setting Season 2 premiere of Cobra Kai, YouTube in April 2019 ordered a third season. Through all the changes at the platform over the past year, YouTube remained committed to airing the completed third season but notified its Sony TV partners that they won’t be commissioning a fourth season.
Looking to secure a future for the show beyond Season 3, Sony TV asked for permission to shop the upcoming season to an outlet that, in success, could order additional episodes.
As part of the negotiations with YouTube, the online platform, which had ownership in and exclusive global rights to the first two seasons of Cobra Kai under the original license agreement with Sony TV, agreed to become a non-exclusive distributor of the first two seasons, which will continue to be available on YouTube along with streaming on Netflix. YouTube did not formally release the series until a new home was locked in.
The strong interest in Cobra Kai by other streamers was fueled, at least in part, by the dearth of high-end scripted programming coming down the pike as the Hollywood production shutdown is into its fourth month. A finished season of a popular title with built-in audience is considered a hot commodity in the current environment.
Cobra Kai takes place 30 years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, where a now successful Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) struggles to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of Mr. Miyagi, and must face his previous adversary, down-and-out Johnny Lawrence ( Zabka), who seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo. Martin Kove stars as sensei John Kreese.
The freshman season of Cobra Kai was a massive breakout hit, topping 55 million YouTube views for Episode 1 and ranking as the sixth-most Google-searched TV show in 2018. It also was named 2018’s Best Drama by Rotten Tomatoes, earning a rare 100% Fresh rating.
“The appeal of The Karate Kid saga is timeless, and Cobra Kai picks up right where it left off without missing a beat. The rivalry between Daniel and Johnny is one for the ages, and the show has a ton of heart and is a lot of fun,” said Brian Wright, VP, Original Series, Netflix “We can’t wait to introduce a new generation of fans to Cobra Kai and are thrilled to be its new home around the world.”
Cobra Kai is written and executive produced by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg via their production company, Counterbalance Entertainment. Together, the trio conceived of this new Karate Kid storyline that picks-up decades after the original film ends. James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett executive produce for Overbrook Entertainment along with Susan Ekins in association with Sony Pictures Television, with Macchio and Zabka serving as co-executive producers.
“Making Cobra Kai has been a dream come true for us since day one. We are thankful for the tireless dedication of Jeff Frost, Chris Parnell, Jason Clodfelter, Karen Tatevosian, and all our partners at Sony for finding us a new home where we can not only continue the series, but also explore opportunities to further expand The Karate Kid universe,” Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg said. “We are beyond excited to join our new partners at Netflix and look forward to the show reaching the massive global audience who loves this franchise as much as we do.
Sony TV previously successfully relocated another scripted series that had been originally set up at YouTube, On Becoming a God in Central Florida. It moved to Showtime ahead of its debut and has been renewed for a second season by the ViacomCBS network.
“We are so proud of Cobra Kai and are overwhelmed by the massive fan response to the series. Josh, Jon, Hayden, Ralph, William and the entire cast have done such a brilliant job with this sensational series and the huge audience reaction and sentiment for it is a testament to that,” said Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures Television: “We are very thankful to our partners at Netflix and couldn’t be more elated that they have become the new home for this epic saga.”
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