Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos echoed the premise of a gushing question about the streaming company’s deal yesterday with Disney posed by The Weinstein Co co-chairman Harvey Weinstein in an interview. “Netflix as a real Pay 1 alternative [to premium channels] is a game-changer,” Sarandos said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. Having exclusive access to movies from all of Disney‘s studios, as well as direct-to-video releases, “is going to be a huge step forward for our programming.” He contrasted that to the exclusivity terms that recently lapsed in Netflix’s agreement with EPIX. Since its product went to Netflix three months after appearing on cable “their brand of exclusivity wasn’t exclusive enough,” Sarandos says. “It wasn’t valuable relative to the premium.” He also says that Netflix did fine after losing access to Starz early this year. By cutting other deals, “our movie selection was better post-Starz.”
Sarandos says that the children’s content on Netflix shouldn’t cut in to conventional TV viewing. “Every month we stream 1B hours of content so you’d think we’d be cannibalizing linear television like crazy,” he says. But Disney Channel still managed to thrive. What about Nickelodeon, whose ratings plummeted last year? Don’t blame Netflix. “Before Netflix they used to have ratings slumps,” Sarandos says. He adds that the company is working on its user interface to make it more kid-friendly.
The Netflix exec rejected a suggestion that a major personality would help the company much as Howard Stern did for Sirius XM or Jon Stewart did for Comedy Central. “The immediacy of something like Stewart or Howard Stern lends itself to ad-supported models,” Sarandos says. “We need things with a long shelf life.… Four months from now (Stewart’s) jokes don’t work at all. But we are moving into more exclusive television.”
That doesn’t include sports. “I don’t think that Netflix brings any unique properties to sports,” Sarandos says. What’s more, it helps Netflix to stay away because a lot of cable companies — the primary broadband providers — are deeply involved in sports networks and programming.