Netflix Co-CEO: Service Has ‘Never Canceled a Successful Show’; Sees Potential to Triple Domestic Viewing Time
If you’re a lover of shows like “GLOW” or “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” you may have been ready to riot when Netflix canceled them. But judging from comments made to Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw, it doesn’t sound like Netflix executives aren’t losing too much sleep over having to let canceled shows go.
Co-CEO Ted Sarandos was asked about the online outrage that crops up when a popular show gets the axe on the service and his response will likely anger a lot of viewers.
“We have never canceled a successful show,” he stated flatly. “A lot of these shows were well-intended but talk to a very small audience on a very big budget. The key to it is you have to be able to talk to a small audience on a small budget and a large audience at a large budget. If you do that well, you can do that forever.”
Netflix uses a highly analytical, data-driven approach to determine which shows get canceled, and which remain. Although some former employees with knowledge of the cancelation process have deemed it “flawed,” users shouldn’t expect a shift in philosophies any time soon, considering Sarandos’ remark.
Despite the anger caused by cancelations, Sarandos and Netflix’s other co-CEO Greg Peters don’t see a big fall-off in domestic viewing time in the company’s future. Netflix recently reported having 230.75 million global users, and although its United States and Canadian subscriber numbers have been essentially flat for some time, the two executives think there’s room to improve Netflix’s viewing time in the U.S. Currently, Netflix accounts for just 8% of total video viewing hours domestically.
When asked if he thought one service reaching 25% of all video viewing hours was an achievable goal, Sarandos replied, “For sure. When you say one service, that’s coming up out of a media landscape that was very specialized. The networks had identities and programming. We program into all those verticals, which gives us the ability to do quality at scale across every genre of entertainment and globally.”
Sarandos’ argument is essentially that Netflix offers so many different types of shows and movies that its appeal is both broad and deep. Netflix not only provides a massive number of titles but the shows and movies also span a myriad of different genres.
“We are equal parts HBO, AMC, FX, the Food Network, HGTV, Comedy Central and Lifetime,” Sarandos said. “You used to have to hunt through 500 channels of cable to find them all and now they’re gonna be on Netflix. There’s no difference in prestige quality television in each of these genres as long as they’re well executed.”
New measures to crack down on password sharing scheduled to roll out this quarter on Netflix could also help the service triple its domestic viewing hours. Sarandos and Peters know those measures will be unpopular with some users, but they’re counting on their wide content variety and the lower price point of the new Basic with Ads plan to help smooth the way.
It’s hard to question the company’s methods when it has spent so many consecutive years as the world’s largest streaming service. Netflix has a lot on its plate this year, including its first live-streamed event, and attempting to boost the efficacy of its nascent ad-supported tier. But don’t expect any massive changes in operation regarding programming decisions; Netflix execs think they’re on the right track in that regard, and that more viewers will be spending time on the service as a result.