Netflix: ‘The Crown one of our most efficient shows’

Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer, presenting at a UBS Media & Communications conference, told analysts that The Crown, despite all the column inches about its cost (and the BBC saying that the series about the British Royal Family cost more than its entire budget for its BBC2 channel), was hugely valuable for Netflix as a whole: “The truth of it is, it’s one of our most efficient shows relative to people watching, and its ability to attract subscribers and retain subscribers. It’s one of our most efficient uses of the money that we spend.”

He explained that Netflix now had 50 original series in production/development.  “That’s going to be growing very dramatically next year with things that we already have in the pipeline to deliver local language scripted series around the world. The original film initiative allots 80 films next year between acquisitions, in production, films that we’ll be releasing on Netflix.”

Sarandos said that the OTT broadcaster was continually evaluating where to spend its dollars, especially when it came to movies vs TV shows. “Dollar for dollar, will I get more hours of viewing? Will I get someone to join Netflix because of the show? Will I get them not to turn off of Netflix because they love the show so much or they’re so excited for the second season coming?”

“[In] an internal debate that we always are doing and trying to say how could we most effectively put the next dollar in. That’s really when – there’s always this debate around are we doing live sports or not. And I think that’s part of that debate too. Is that the best use of the next billion dollars? And we’ve come to the conclusion so far that it isn’t. We’re making that same equation around putting a dollar into movies versus in television.”

He gave analysts a taste of what was in the pipeline, saying: “We have a couple that are upcoming that are very large scale original shows like Altered Carbon, which is a adult science-fiction series upcoming. We’ve showed Lost in Space which is more family co-viewing, but also produced on a spectacular level. There’s a reboot of Dark Crystal that is a combination of Henson Puppetry and CG that’s really phenomenal and exciting for people.”

“We have a show called Maniac that just finished production here in New York this week, directed by Cary Fukunaga starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone, comedy series that’s really incredible. And then I know it’s not next year, it’s in the next couple of weeks, but Bright, our first big original film, will be released on December 22nd starring Will Smith. That is a kind of a studio-level theatrical tentpole-style film, but being released directly to Netflix on December 22nd.”

Sarandos praised Disney and what he described as its ‘killer’ brands (Star Wars, Walt Disney, Pixar and Marvel) but held back in terms of how much of a threat Disney might be for Netflix, adding: “So what Disney going direct to consumer means, I don’t really know totally, and I’m not positive that they do either.”

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