This Netflix series, the first of three, will compete with rival app Calm’s show on HBO Max
If you have run out of TV options, because the pandemic’s upending of production schedules has caught up with the pipeline of new content, maybe try a show that will tackle your restless need for distraction at its root, such as those by Netflix and Headspace.
Headspace — that app your friend is always telling you about when you complain about sleep, work stress or anything else — has delivered the first of three series planned for Netflix.
The Netflix and Headspace series “Headspace Guide to Meditation” looks and sounds familiar to users of the popular app. The serene voice of cofounder Andy Puddicombe, the guider of so many of the company’s guided meditations, has made the jump to the screen and so has Headspace’s visual mix of watercolor-like backdrops, characters drawn in cartoony basic shapes and yellow and orange circular globs against blue backgrounds.
Puddicombe, who used to be a Buddhist monk — as he restates repeatedly in its eight episodes — gives an introduction to a concept like kindness, stress, anger or letting go and then talks viewers through a related meditation.
Each episode of the Netflix and Headspace series is about 20 minutes.
“The Headspace Guide to Sleep” and an untitled third show are in the works. Headspace also has an upcoming program made in partnership with the BBC, utilizing nature footage.
Given the limits of COVID-19-era film and TV production and the increased stress and anxiety, such a concept seemed destined for content-hungry and increasingly inter-competitive streaming platforms.
As Netflix inked a deal with Headspace last year, competitor HBO Max partnered with Calm, the second most popular freemium mindfulness app. Its “World of Calm,” with celebrity narrators and footage from exotic locales, is now streaming.
As Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chödrön became best-selling authors and meditation classes spread to grade schools, prisons and the corporate offices, Headspace has been on top of the mindfulness craze. Founded in 2010, it breaks down the intimidating-seeming discipline of meditation into 10-minute bitesize chunks with exact guidance and an easy interface.
The company surged from 400,000 paying users and $40 million in revenue in 2017 to 2 million users and $100 million right before the pandemic. COVID-19 was likely a boon to the app, because of increased stress and indoor time spent with apps.
Headspace has raised $215 million from private investors and had its sights set on Food and Drug Administration validation of its techniques, which would open a lucrative door to physicians prescribing them.
As for now, it seems the Netflix and Headspace partnership is fulfilling the latter’s hopes of increased brand awareness and entry into the ears of more overwhelmed people.
Nick Keppler is a freelance journalist, writer and editor. He enjoys writing the difficult stories, the ones that make him pore over studies, talk about subjects that make people uncomfortable, and explain concepts that have taken years to develop. Nick has written extensively about psychology, healthcare, and public policy for national publications and for those locally- based in Pittsburgh. In addition to Athletech News, Nick has written for The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Vice, Slate, Reuters, CityLab, Men’s Health, The Gizmodo Media Group, The Financial Times, Mental Floss, The Village Voice and AlterNet. His journalistic heroes include Jon Ronson, Jon Krakauer and Norah Vincent.