Netflix announced the acquisition of Karate Kid drama Cobra Kai on Monday. The first two seasons, which aired on YouTube Premium, will officially debut on the streamer later this year, with the recently completed third season to follow at a date to be determined.
“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. 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,” said Brian Wright, Vice President, Original Series, Netflix.
A continuation of The Karate Kid film series with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprising their roles as Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence, respectively, Cobra Kai debuted in May 2018 to the strong reviews and massive viewership needed to breakout on a newer platform. Both the season one and two premieres are currently over 85 million views, while the first season was the best reviewed TV drama on Rotten Tomatoes in 2018.
However, the streamer began rebranding in the spring of 2019, opting to move away from high cost scripted shows and focus on content that was unscripted, personality-driven, and/or centered on music. YouTube gradually cancelled its promising fleet of scripted content, including well-regarded comedy Wayne, dance drama Step Up: High Water, sci-fi drama Impulse, and underrated buddy comedy Overthinking with Kat & June, leaving only Cobra Kai and Liza Koshy comedy Liza on Demand. It’s as yet unclear whether the latter will get to make the third season that YouTube ordered in January.
Cobra Kai is the third YouTube Premium project to find another home. Acclaimed Showtime dark comedy On Becoming a God in Central Florida was ordered to series by YouTube in June 2018 before moving to the ViacomCBS cabler the following year in the wake of YouTube’s rebrand. Step Up: High Water was cancelled in August 2019 before series production studio Lionsgate moved the series to its own premium cable network Starz.