RTS Cambridge Convention 2013: Netflix – The New Risk Takers?

RTS Cambridge Convention 2013: Netflix – The New Risk Takers?

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Friday, 13th September 2013

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos has indicated that the online operator’s content spend could double in the next few years.

But despite repeated questioning from Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s chief creative officer, Sarandos declined to provide any details of viewing figures for his shows.

In fact, Sarandos admitted that he doesn’t even tell the talent what their audience figures are on Netflix.

“Do they care if 2 million or 20 million are watching?” said Sarandos.  “No. House of Cards was commissioned for two seasons. That’s what the talent cares about.

The Netflix boss emphasised that it was not necessary to release viewing figures for his content because it is funded by subscription fees rather than advertising.

He revealed that at present a little less than 10% of his budget is spent on content. This is likely to double “in the next few years”.

Sarandos suggested that it arguably makes more economic sense for Netflix to spend more on original content than pay big fees to Hollywood studios for current box-office hits.

“We’ve discovered that the big movies aren’t always the most watched content,” he said. “People want to watch great old movies, too.”

Asked by Hunt about churn at Netflix, Sarandos said that only a handful of UK subscribers (around 12,000) signed up for the free, month-long offer specifically to watch House of Cards and then immediately cancelled their subscriptions.

The session was produced by David Mapstone and Diana Muir.

Report by Steve Clarke. Photo by Paul Hampartsoumian.

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