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Ted Sarandos Interviewed by Jason Hirschhorn | Upfront Summit 2020

Ted Sarandos
Chief Content Officer at Netflix
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Upfront Summit 2020
January 29 2020, Pasadena, CA, United States
Upfront Summit 2020
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Ted Sarandos Interviewed by Jason Hirschhorn | Upfront Summit 2020
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About the talk

Topic: Business

Ted Sarandos (Chief Content Officer, Netflix) talks with REDEF's Jason Hirschhorn about the business of global storytelling; the changing nature of the content medium; Netflix's strategy of original content and animation; the consumer lifespan strategy for Netflix; and the prognosis of growth moving forward.

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Good afternoon, everybody. We got 10 sarantos here from Netflix slow otherwise known as my drug dealer. I spend more 00:00 hours with the stuff that he creates and just about any other service and given we haven't had lunch in a while. I've got a lot of lunch questions for 00:10 you today. Perfect. This is our ketchup is Legacy Media companies often. What I hear back is 00:17 we tried that and it didn't work. That's not the way we do things and then a lot of the 6s and Netflix seems to come from having no history. But also 00:27

what if we would if we did this and what are the things that I think is fantastic of what Netflix is doing right now is the number of shows that I 00:37 watch that are internationally produced in non English-speaking countries, they are default with subtitles. And I think there's something very Noble 00:44 about that and we were talking backstage about how one of the Great British shows. Is there a show called Broadchurch and yet American Mediacom 00:53 Stealthy needed to remake that in American and yet Netflix is having great sex. We did pass on that Bitch by 01:00

something came to mind at the Golden Globes where the director of parasite said. Once you overcome a come the one 01:08 in tall barrier of subtitles. You'll be introduced to so many more Amazing films and television show the telephone process when you started thinking 01:18 about International productions for the US it was so nice to me because we do we do create a lot of programming and they said are you afraid you're 01:27 going to run out of stories and storytellers as if you believe they all live in New York and La yes, but I believe they're all over the world. And if 01:36

you know people can tell him stories for way way way before we got here and so is our business is is usually International. The one that we talked 01:43 about on our way learning is called recently and we passed a hundred million subscribers outside of the US on Netflix. No spark at the other people 01:53 really want to see their stories and they want to see themselves represented on the screen and the stories are phenomenal and they can travel siargao 02:02 really is not to not to just export Hollywood concert around the world. That's not much of a superpower lot of big companies do that, but we can find 02:09

a great story from anywhere in the world and they could play anywhere in the world to sometimes. It's like the casa de papel in the US would call 02:17 Money eyes, but I got two different Power was a top show in 70 countries and it's an enormous success for us everywhere subtitles and doves, you know, 02:25 how it whichever way people like it but in general with their dues are making his grade stories like, you know, they've always made good grades or is 02:35 it in India, but you probably have never seen many of them. So weird original shows like sacred games and Delhi crime and they play everywhere in the 02:42

world in Indian television is never exported anywhere in the world. 02:50 They want food in their stomachs and there are lots of common things. Did you guys think about that from a corporate responsibility standpoint, which 03:00 is telling the stories of people in other countries Through The Eyes of the people that live there in the US was there was there a double play there 03:08 or is it happens to know some of the DNA in Creative DNA kind of came out of the Indy world so 03:17

myself and I team in the people been my team the longest a big fans of these kind of more intimate stories and foreign language film and all those 03:27 things didn't seem unusual for us to Champion them and we've also saw back in the D in our early days. We were just mailing DVDs around was really 03:36 successful was our ability to take these under distributed films, which tended to be those kind of stories give them a big International are big and 03:45 that time National platform and if people actually had access to the stories they choose them. So we were We can always go to biased towards that 03:53

anyway, Iva Iva internally, I got to refer to it as you know, what are the what are you what do you want to do when you watch a movie or TV show you 04:02 either want to connect you know that the emotional connection or you want to just get away from it all and we're really great I can act and we're 04:08 getting better at Escape if you had the money I would include is because I'm in the 04:16 u.s. Is what is as strong as that shows playing everywhere in the world there in the US. We have better an embarrassment of riches a programming in 04:26

English. So that really doesn't tell people didn't get very adventurous. The likeliness of people in America are watching anything in their foreign 04:33 language is very low relative to anywhere else in the world compared to protect like Brazil watch is not Portuguese. They're 04:40 just need to be there to spend there is to have it if I didn't read stories before you go but we got like two coming up right now. We are launching. 04:50 We have a hundred and thirty. Seasons of local language television, but we're producing this year alone and are very the next month to wear for a 04:58

couple weeks and blood and water which are very first shows from Africa from Sand. They were being produced in South Africa and we're 05:08 going over for them here in a couple of weeks and we really excited about this. That's awesome time to the holiday season, but there was a little show 05:18 from Norway called a home for Christmas. That's a rom-com series that was a huge hit for us all over the world that God but 19 * the watching 05:27 outside of Norway. So it's like that cuz those kind of things like where they said they're going to come from Casa De Las Flores from Mexico. These 05:37

are the shows that people I think people will recognize the forms, but maybe seeing those people in those stories for the first time a lot of us are 05:44 recognizing film on Netflix for the catalogs that you've license in the past. You've got six underground from Michael Bay. You've got the Irishman. 05:51 Scorsese marriage story also nominated for the Academy Award 06:00 has he seen his media companies getting bigger through acquisition. They've taken a 06:05 franchise model specifically Disney you're seeing assembly line. He knows where do attachments to film want to hear bigger tent poles. They build the 06:15

ride and we're missing this middle. You come out of this this ethos of indie film or these middle movies that maybe have been 20 or 30 million dollar 06:24 Productions that are not getting made as much my history has been that the streaming service is specifically Netflix is going to be a boon for that. 06:33 Meaning. We're not going to lose that voice and the way that you guys can find the cohorts in the different kinds of audience is really perfect for 06:41 that kind of film. How is film going to drive the next evolution of user growth and how it how important is that to Netflix in terms of content mix 06:47

it's really important. I mean you saw her investment in this year this year you mention Irishman 6 Underground We also ready Murphy's return in 06:55 dolomites are the two popes and Fernanda Morales 07:02 Martin Scorsese. Try to get the Irish were made for 07:05 more than 30 almost 15 years pitching it everywhere. And by the way, I did when I tell that story all the time. It's just it's at we have a different 07:15 business model. So if I had to make my money back on that movie by selling movie tickets to a three and a half hour movie that you know can only show 07:22

biz basically once a day to build asset value out of having a movie like the Irish man, that'd be a good by the same people watch a lot 07:30 more Netflix than they go to see in the theater. So they are going to watch that movie are much higher the buried the friction to watching a movie is 07:40 lowered on Netflix for sure. But also you look at that was a very big Financial Risk was a very big technology the technology to do the D aging was 07:47 not working at the time we go into the movie. So basically that we took with Mark was Martin Scorsese. I know it sounds like a big leagues was a lot 07:55

of money but the leap was that we trusted Martin Scorsese to make a mob movie with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci 08:02 technology. They use to present, you know them as younger man did not it wasn't ready. So we green letter was the 08:09 base of a Was a Race Against the clock to detect would get done by the time the the film was in Final Cut about this middle dropping out to the 08:19 smartzip Netflix like put lobster bibs on and like being like we're going to eat this whole because they're going to move 08:26

very rare to see a hit movie that takes place on planet Earth anymore as a superpower 08:36 but there but I do think that Dina movies is a storytelling medium in a real human 08:44 drama, which I think is there is a market for it and you wouldn't guess that by looking at the top 10 movies. I think it's very cynical. Meaning of 08:54 these are assets that want to be optimized you'll get the TV show out of them. You'll get the video game in the app and you'll get the, you know, 09:03

every other of manifestation the ride David where is urine the Purdue play K. Flay Katie, but serving micro audiences on your platform and therefore 09:10 smaller films can be bigger on your platform. Then maybe they'd be in the Kearney go through that light up when you look at the top and release the 09:20 numbers are movies unit. Like in the case of Irish when we talk about you to 40 + million people, you know, whatcher the starter is watching the movie 09:28 what that equates do. I mean if you look at that in terms of just cultural cash how many people saw it? It's definitely as big as anything that's in 09:34

the theater. So so we talked about this before but it's hard to sort of see, you know, something better than the other but it was a great way to 09:43 Spotlight film doesn't appreciate the art and amongst all the Commerce and we seen these battles unfortunately has been pitted as a net. First of the 09:52 industry on Netflix versus Steven Spielberg, but I look at it as a film is a continuous, you know, 1/2 to our piece of content of one and a half hour 10:01 to two hours. Yes. I like going to the movie theater, but the reality is when I walk into my you know, my sister's house and I see my nieces and 10:09

nephews on the ground and iPad. They just have a different juxtaposition to what screen is an hour does a narrative if you make a movie in the show on 10:17 Netflix and not in the theater. I think it should be nominated for an Oscar and what I'm worried about it. I don't mean to disrespect it. But if you 10:24 look at where the media companies are going in the kinds of movies, they're making you're going to have a very small set of kinds of films to get 10:31 nominated you are being able to 3240 films a year in the theater Roma from 10:38

last year literally last month just left the last theater in Japan and made it been playing in the theaters non-stop for about 15 months. 10:48 900 stators was so you put it in the theater. You're following the rules of the academy. It's nice that it's in the theater, but in 10 years or 5 11:00 years, I don't think it should have to be I think it's a very hypocritical you got some of the people at the Academy. I forget the guy's name that 11:09 sits on the board of AMC Theaters. I see you buying movie theaters in restoring them. I don't see the movie business trying to Safety. In fact, it is 11:16

less deep than ever before. What's what's the Paris Theater that we that we kind of rescued in New York was the last single Screen Theater in 11:24 Manhattan, and it was every out there and it was about to become a pharmacy. So we were able to bring to save it from being turned into a pharmacy. 11:32 I told the story that I 11:40 recently about that if that member vividly, you know, seeing them Blazing Saddles the first R-rated movie Everest on a movie theater has 10 years old 11:50

and I thought I thought I robbed a bank I got away with this thing. And but I'm just thinking that experience. I just remember it's so big that I 11:57 never seen Jaws in the movie theater and everybody screaming when that had came out of the boat. And those are ants always 12:03 watching a movie to being thrilled all day. So I just think in general it is the medium and I aren't my focus in the book of the Netflix and Scott's 12:13 do her runs are film group to make the best movies possible. Everything else will take care of itself and ended with the movies have to be undeniable 12:20

and they're the same exact movie made the exact same way as they would have if they were releasing it. I knew it's dinner theater in is it 12:27 and why they focus on you. The reality is that if the academy is about filmmakers you would argue that and Netflix is very good for film because 12:36 you're allowing things to get made that the traditional ecosystem in which the Oscars focus on or not focusing on it. Talk about this like, it's 12:45 Oscars this year. They were the most with the most Nominated Studio at the Oscars. You put it in the but 12:53

they were in the theater. So you were you're placating the old wet, but I would definitely want to go out on Friday night in the 13:03 best movie to see is the Irishman and I would love if they had the choice to see that at home or on Netflix if they want and that the only thing is 13:13 getting in the way now is the major chains that will book them. But in general there in you know, there is a lot during a lot of screens and there are 13:20 great Chums. They are getting audited and how much do you say how much of the future is going to be in refurbishing Moore Theater is or is that a 13:26

case-by-case but I think that they were those two we have a New York and we did in LA with the with the Egyptian and it gives us a place to showcase 13:32 the products we do. We have a 5 to 7 premieres a week of our films and series work does a lot of things we do in the other thing that we're doing with 13:41 those spaces is helping support showcasing new Talent working with that wolf after you know do to be able to Showcase Thailand in 13:49 in in Jordan La that otherwise wouldn't be going to be seen going to try to use this as a real hub for film culture and fell in love 13:59

with an E and has some of our rediff Originals a Venusaur 14:07 looked at Netflix and seeing that you guys were really looking at leaving like a cable system dial and seeing what a what are the categories of 14:16 programming from Sports the news to reality. Whatever it is one thing from day one that you guys have concentrated on it was even broken out has its 14:24 own tab originally were kids and you'd have content from Disney and you did a deal with DreamWorks and all the providers of content do Fast forward 14:32

now everyone's taking back their ammunition or not everybody in order to start their own services and yet you've leaned into animation an area that 14:41 you know, you were masons in there getting Awards. You know, how how do you prepared for the the taking back of content at Netflix and then talk 14:48 about, you know, specifically animation and kids are really how you get people not to believe your service, but it's been secular. So I think we knew 14:58 years ago. We first got him directing our own Original Series going back just over seven years ago. Now that we said to ourselves what we believed the 15:05

future of this so I would be would be that all networks and within all Studios were go direct to Consumer. They would be ABC the network would become 15:15 abc.com and and if that was all true that they weren't going to sell us their stuff. So if that was going to be the case, we better get good at making 15:22 our own and that's when we invested in shows like House of Cards in Orange is the New Black and Lillehammer and that first year and the same was true 15:28 of the Catalina for television product product. Same thing was true for movies. Send it would be cheaper for catalog down the road. So we got into it 15:35

a while ago and I'm every one of the first big you know ships in the business was Nickelodeon content on Netflix anymore because 15:43 the ratings were you know tanking so they didn't renew the deal and all that Nickelodeon content came off of Netflix and we knew it was coming with a 15:53 few months in 6 months to get ready for it and we were able to license other programming to come on at his place and overnight all the programme all 16:00 the viewing that was happening on Nickelodeon just started happening on this other side of programming and then we didn't lose a second of kids 16:09

watching on Netflix and so in that world, which I think will look I don't want to be beholden to people's wins that have that have nothing to do with 16:14 us. So we still about three years ago. We started investing in our own original animation features. We've been doing with other people producing 16:21 original animated series for us, but this was an early investment in animated features along the lines of the things you see in the theater are very 16:29 first one cell produce was Klaus that was out this year. We had a really huge head for us on Netflix over the fourth quarter and it was and it's 16:37

nominated for best animated feature at the Oscars has a big breakthrough for a kind of the first out but I'm so thrilled that we started this three 16:45 years ago, cuz we got a good building a pipeline to release 426 animated features a year. So 16:52 people going to leave the cable system down, you know as as things change 16:58 in the business and there's sort of these isn't that people believe their catalogs are so strong or whatever going to is there a liberating factor in 17:08

Sri wind turbine swing by and drop off your but then there's a there when I come back to the table. And once again, are they in less than 17:15 200 Leslie Knope favorable position. I've never been better. We're actually producing original content with with the Nickelodeon IP. We're producing 17:25 original SpongeBob's for Netflix. So we're doing a lot of that now, Play focus on is 17:33 keeping people happy that you stick around. So if we if you're if you're not finding the right things to watch if you're not being entertained that's 17:42

where in trouble and that's usually not because you're finding it somewhere else. So it's up for us. It's us focusing on making the choices better. 17:51 Make sure the content is grade because you when you push play on episode one that you stick around all the way through episode 10 things about the 17:59 consumer that I think you guys intrinsically know that because the cable companies have not been direct-to-consumer before don't understand. I'll give 18:06 you an example when we were telling her add to buy a cam selling a number and it didn't behoove you to over deliver meaning. Why would you want to 18:13

give away more of you know delivery of a better rating than you stole right? So what would happen is you make your number by October sometimes and 18:22 then the network would quit with throw on rerun for they throw on some music video there be the Thanksgiving Day Parade, whatever had rain and yet I 18:30 noticed this when you when I first became friends that Right before Thanksgiving. There's a dump of content to couple of documentaries of film a 18:37 couple of TV shows and the constant nature of that in the constant alerts that I get make it in my mind that I'm never going to leave Netflix because 18:45

of what may come and yet I don't see that at the level and what if you were giving any advice as I find it funny that Netflix puts out there a charge 18:54 acting all their strategies and yet it comes down to execution if you're giving advice on how you really care about the consumer Beyond stories. What 19:02 would it be for a media company? The main one is as if we are from different channels he talked about and we were able to figure out early on how 19:11 different we were than cable because what happened was people would be would their kids would start on PBS and they age out the Disney Channel and 19:19

then they age out of the Disney Channel to Nick and Adam Nick back to Disney Channel and what we're finding was our members were raging through 19:27 Netflix and staying with us because we had programming for them as they got older as their taste evolved as APK. Norwell late and that's true I think 19:34 of how when where dressing a big base of users taste or incredibly diverse and you cannot be able to be as passionate a member 19:42 if I'm only focusing on you because you're a male of a certain age 19:52

TV Land one of the 19:55 people in finding that but you don't have to leave Netflix as your eyes your tasty Bob I was I was saying people are so different my wife and I we 20:05 agree on enough things that we got married, but we cannot agree on a show to watch. So I need to know the biggest problem I have with my girlfriend is 20:13 what am I allowed to watch without her how many divorces have you guys caused that Netflix Casa de papel. You may have to get a separation 20:21

of you sure that'll encourage people to be honest and tell her it's other spouse's when they are going to watch it out. Follett shows if you started 20:31 the episode of I know you know what I'm talkin about that you're willing to do that 20:41 really do question your own ethics because you can't sit there you're watching that TV in your thinking about it because it's that good. I think 20:51 that's really is a challenge what we're doing and that we hold ourselves to a super high bar. When we said you want to talk about their competition 20:58

everything. We really don't think about it that much and I don't mean that with any arrogant. We just really think about the consumer only and the 21:05 more that we look forward to look to taken care of consumers. It said looking over our shoulders were left like it if so, let's talk about growth. So 21:11 I was on a CNBC a couple weeks ago. I think you had seen it and you know Disney plus is about to launch and they're like Netflix's going to go down 21:17 and I'll just place, you know at MTV we had sort of free rein it at youth for many years and we thought we were smarter than we were 21:26

because no one else was entering the space than the internet comes and there's more competition. I'm one of the things I don't think you guys get 21:35 credit for us where you are in the United States is huge and you've seen that in the stock price, but there's all this upside internationally. How do 21:42 you guys look at gross going forward? And how much of it is dependent on International? And where do you think those whose pockets of growth are going 21:49 to be in Bolton Ashley and domestically and remember we're we're copying off of a very big number. We talked about our our domestic growth. So when we 21:55

look at those numbers, you think I would think we're going to continue to grow and in the numbers that we've talked about it in our guidance, I think 22:03 in the international market 800 million broadband and pay TV households around the world very lightly penetrated and it suggests that market. 22:09 So I think we have plenty of girls to go in and the internet infrastructure and payment infrastructure and all those things that were pretty 22:19 sophisticated about are getting better and better everywhere in the world. I remembered Barry Diller and I were doing an interview wants and he said 22:25

when Netflix hits 50 million it's game over here at a hundred and fifty million now globally, is that the number 5757 You know, I asked you this the 22:31 other day, but I want to ask him publicly it like is this going to be the first service that is a billion Subs worldwide. And how do you work towards 22:41 that I mean the markets big enough? I don't know if we're going to do what I what would you think the best way to do that is to be just to keep 22:47 entertaining and I threw out his numbers of Subs. They seem to be on their way. Do you want to throw out the billion number now that it's as a test to 22:55

Europe super comfortable with what we've been doing and we're going to keep doing it. That's a game when you think about the competition going 23:03 forward. I'm not individually, but I look at Netflix is the basis for my home. I used to watch AMC FX Showtime HBO sight 23:11 unseen, but when I'm in the interface of Netflix, I get called into things that I wasn't even looking for if I'm searching for spies are giving me, 23:21 you know documentaries on if I search for Bohemian Rhapsody in and I don't find it you give me Rock movie down there. So you were searching more often 23:29

than an average used. I'll tell you that I'm at the point now. I don't believe in PTV I believe in peak time. I'm talking to God about it. You know, 23:37 what's 25 hour 8 day a week thing so I can watch more Netflix Amazon to the basis of my home. I will probably buy all the other services cuz I can 23:47 afford them in your diaper user yet replaced. What do you think is the risks of anyone asking for more video? I 23:56 can watch with I want to watch on Netflix right now look at it. I just think it's this. This is the best time in the world to be a lover of moving 24:06

movies and TV because the choices are unbelievable the great time to be a Creator because the Dubai he knows a lot of competitive buyers for the the 24:14 markets very frothy for content and at the end of the day, I think he complains about too much of anything else. They love. I don't know why there 24:23 would be as massive. Goodbye. There's too much to watch people just got to find your tastes are so diverse the chances that you're going to have a 24:31 deep relationship with the contact you're watching. How much better than more choices you have and that's that's why I think is happening. That's why 24:37

I think it's different than just, you know, 500 cable channels and nothing to watch. I was always the knock against it but there was plenty to watch 24:43 MTV wasn't it? You know and it's and it's golden days. So Choose Your Own Adventure in a promise in this business for a long time, whether it be 24:50 interactivity with hold back after you guys have had some early success in that as we pointed out in some of our 24:59 redef original stuff that usually changes in technology applied to distribution. Another thing that you're applying at the narrative. How important is 25:09

that going forward look at right now, I'd say it's been proven for us to be successful with kids to identify a lot of kids programming. It's been 25:18 really great for us with black mirror with a great Black Mirror episode. Bandersnatch that really kind of broke the technology to the really play 25:25 along with this thing so good that like there's those formats. I think it will probably knock off. Interactive gets bigger but things like that aspect 25:34 ratio changes when it was time to choose and then when the choices start to intensify if you're playing the the episode through a game console the 25:43

game controller in your hand by Briggs even more intensely as I goes off. Immersive thing that goes on but if it's really a revolution in storytelling 25:51 it has to work with comedy it has to work with romance. It has to work with drama. Otherwise, it's just a fun way to play sometimes do you see you 25:59 looking PR we talked about the experience going to the doctor. I love them and I love that. I'm not supposed to be on my phone. I never thought the VR 26:08 would be a place for that kind of narrative. But is there a way for VR to recreate the movie experience in terms of a wide picture and all that kind 26:17

of stuff that you guys are excited about our applications to put on the glasses in you feel like going to be right there. Yeah. 26:23 And frankly, it's been great for a Kaz of as a fan of content and in frankly your lighting a fire under the ass of a lot of the companies that we 26:40 depend on that baby. Don't innovate everybody. 26:47

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