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I want to restore choice and option for consumers, says Netflix’s Ted Sarandos

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CANNES: For Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos this is the golden age of storytelling. Sarandos was giving a keynote on day two of MIPCOM 2014.

Talking about Netflix and its engagement with the audience, he said, “We have been able to innovate and advance technology that favours the consumer. We have been able to innovate the audience, who are on-demand viewers.”

Netflix which has 50 million paid subscribers in 40 countries, recently launched in France and Germany. Talking about the viewership pattern Sarandos said, “We have been very encouraged with viewing behaviour in France and unsurprisingly, Orange is the New Black is the most watched show in France and Germany for Netflix, in the first couple of weeks and we are excited about it since the shows have not been previously available in these markets.”

According to Sarandos, what works for Netflix is the fact that it caters to the desire of people who have heard about shows, but not been able to see it. 

Netflix offers 70 per cent TV shows and 30 per cent movies, “and that’s the way people watch as well,” he informed.

On his catalogue being small at the time of launch, he said, “What we launch within a new territory is half of the programming that the territory will have in the next 12 months. And we are literally adding content everyday wherever we launch.”

For Sarandos, it is each passing day that gives him the idea of the viewing habits of consumers. “So what you see at the launch is what we know pretty much about the market without even being there and then depending on the viewing behavior, we licence content that people want to see.  So it is an intentional move to launch with less content,” he added.

Netflix also recently launched in Germany and talking about the lessons from the market he said that viewing hours per subscriber was very impressive.

The platform offers consumers the level of choice that they haven’t seen yet. “So while there are a lot of pre-conceived notions, one needs to have dubbed content while also have subtitled programming.”

The platform may also have plans for original French production. “We have found large audiences for existing French content around the world already. We have started working with French animation houses for co-productions,” he said while adding that they have already aggregated a lot of audiences around the world for French shows.  

So is the business profitable overseas? Answered Sarandos, “We are investing continuously in expansion, we want to be a global company. We are at serious investment phase.”

Sarandos believes that Netflix is a destination for content, for ability to choose and enjoy in one’s own timetable.

The platform which is now also moving into making movies, but doesn’t get involved in writing the script, aims to be active on distribution. “We pick storytellers and let them tell the stories. We don’t dictate creative storytelling,” he said.

Netflix doesn’t want to kill windowing, instead wants to restore choice and option. He also touched upon the point of Netflix’s data analytics. “We use the data to help determine the potential size of the show. The ability to invest in the show was because of the data we had. We didn’t use the data to influence the creative of the show,” he clarified. 

Will Netflix move to sports and news as well? Sarandos quickly said, “It is on-demand that makes Netflix desirable and sports and news are linear events, so we can’t do anything interesting in sports and news right now.”

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