The corporate raider, who owns 9.9% of the company’s stock and has lobbied for Netflix to sell itself, has been “supportive,” Chief Creative Officer Ted Sarandos says. “It’s been very positive”, although they haven’t spoken specifically about Netflix’s deal yesterday with Disney. But the exec told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that this is no time for Netflix to sell itself. “The growth we’re seeing in the U.S. and the growth we’re seeing in international, we’re just in the beginning. …It’s an amazing cycle of innovation.” Indeed, he asks: “Would there have been HBO Go without Netflix? No way.” Sarandos says that competition is growing but “we never thought we’d run away with the whole sector.” And he says that “there aren’t many direct competitors.” For example, Amazon Prime offers discounts on e-commerce shipping, and Hulu Plus has ads. Netflix recently beefed up its anti-takeover protections to keep Icahn at bay.
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.”
“We never thought we’d operate without competition. We’re surprised it’s taken this long,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told investors today at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. And he says he’s not concerned after the e-retail power doubled its video streaming library by cutting a deal with EPIX. That became possible after the end of August when terms giving Netflix exclusive Internet rights to the channel expired. “People don’t watch [EPIX's movies and shows] more because they’re exclusive,” Sarandos says. “Over time it proved to be not differentiated enough” from other programming. What’s more, since EPIX shows run on pay TV before they hit the Internet, the channel “wasn’t that exclusive.”
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos walked a tightrope this morning as he tried to assure cable execs at the industry’s annual convention that he’s their friend. It’s debatable; Cox Communications chief Pat Esser, who joined Sarandos on a panel at The Cable Show, referred to the streaming service as a “frenemy.” But the Netflix exec assured the audience that his service — which is so important to cable’s broadband customers — is no threat to their traditional TV business. That includes Nickelodeon, where ratings are down 30% so far in Q2 vs the same period last year – many believe because kids now can watch SpongeBox Squarepants and iCarly on Netflix. “People’s tastes are so diverse that no specific network and no specific show has such high viewing concentration that you’d see that kind of cause-and-effect on ratings,” Sarandos says.
Sarandos adds that Netflix can take credit for helping shows such as AMC’s Mad Men. “In the gap between Season 4 and Season 5 we brought maybe 1M new viewers to AMC. There were people who had four years to watch the show and didn’t. Because we gave them a good opportunity and a well-priced model (they were able) to catch up on the show.” The lesson, he says, is that
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Playtone development and production executive Peter Friedlander is joining Netflix, where he will oversee original content acquisition. While acquisitions of existing TV series has been the backbone of Netflix’s rise over the past few years, including high-profile recent deals with AMC and the CW, the streaming giant also signaled an expansion into original series with the recent deal with MRC for drama House Of Cards. Netflix’s major acquisitions/output deals have been orchestrated by Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. My understanding is that Friedlander will focus on series that will be produced exclusively for Netflix. Netflix has now become a go-to place for every production company shopping a direct-to-series project or a canceled network series they want to keep alive. The online distributor was recently pitched the new Charlie Sheen sitcom Anger Management and the Arrested Development reboot and had been in negotiations for a new comedy series from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. While it is expanding into original series, Netflix does not plan to expand into development or production and will continue to license shows developed and produced by outside companies. Friedlander’s role will be to help identify and bring new series and other projects to Netflix.
UPDATE: Miramax’s Mike Lang and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Talk Shop; Netflix Adds ‘Lilyhammer’ To TV Lineup
MIPCOM UPDATE: The video of Miramax CEO Mike Lang’s keynote at the Media Mastermind kickoff today is below, including his chat with Neflix’s Ted Sarandos. The two companies have recently partnered up on the digital side, and the studio is in town to drum up worldwide sales for its content in both film and TV.
PREVIOUS: Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, announced in Cannes this afternoon that Netflix is adding Norwegian-produced TV show Lilyhammer to its original programming lineup. Stevie Van Zandt — who so memorably played mob consigliore Silvio Dante in The Sopranos — plays a Mafioso who testified against his former boss in New York and winds up relocated to the Norwegian countryside as part of the Witness Protection Program. Lilyhammer will premiere on Netflix in early 2012, with Netflix acquiring the 8 episodes from the show’s first season as well as the upcoming 8-episode second season. Sarandos, who was being interviewed by Miramax CEO Mike Lang, said that 60% of viewing on Netflix’s newly separated streaming business is for TV episodes, with Mad Men and Breaking Bad being most popular. Deadline understands that Netflix, which is on the hunt for original programming, has also had talks about reviving Arrested Development with 20th Century Fox TV. Netflix surprised Hollywood in March by outbidding major TV networks for the rights to the David Fincher/Kevin Spacey drama House Of Cards.
Lang, meanwhile, said that Miramax is talking to potential partners around the world about the distributor having its own cable network showing the 700 movies in its archives. Miramax signed a long-term deal for its content with Netflix in May, and is partnering with Facebook to launch Miramax Experience, an app that will allow users worldwide to watch its movies. Lang was keen to talk up how Miramax is reinventing itself as an anytime, anywhere distributor. “In a way I’d like to believe our company is a bit more Silicon Valley than Hollywood in that respect,” he said.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the company ran into trouble today with its forecasts for streaming video and DVD rental subscriptions because it’s still adjusting to the decision in July to turn them into separate products. “Being able to precisely forecast and predict the behavior of that many people on a fairly radical change is something we’ll get better at all the time,” he told an audience today at The Paley Media Center. He said that while ”it was a sexy headline” to report that the change in Netflix’s offering increased the price of the combined streaming and DVD service by 60%, “that was only for people who chose both.” The number of people taking both services will dwindle. Although “the DVD business has a long life in middle America,” Sarandos says “it’s just not part of our future.”