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Netflix Doesn’t Intend to Pull Back on Content Spend, per Report

Matt Tamanini

For perhaps the first time in the company’s existence, Netflix is very publicly questioning its entire business model. Following its first quarterly subscriber decline in a decade, the streaming giant has announced the launch of an ad-supported tier and a plan to curb rampant password sharing.

Despite these moves aimed at adding and retaining subscribers, consumers aren’t the only ones being impacted by Netflix’s changing strategies and declining stock price. The streamer has already let go a significant number of employees with another round of layoffs anticipated soon. Netflix has also been public about its plans to fine-tune its content creation budget with a focus on making bigger, but fewer, projects in the future.

However, according to Variety, the world’s largest streamer is making it very clear to creators that they still very much intend to spend a whole lot of money on content. According to the trade, the streamer’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos — who heads up Netflix’s content arm — global film head Scott Stuber, and global television chief Bela Bajaria have begun to reach out to major artists in order to assure them that despite stock dips following the company’s last earnings report, Netflix does not see cutting content spending as a way to solve its problems.

Sources told Variety’s Brent Lang and Matt Donnelly that the streamer’s 2022 and 2023 content budgets have been locked in and are expected to at least remain on par with 2021’s $17 billion. The sources stressed that despite losing 200,000 subscribers, Netflix still maintains well over 200 million customers worldwide, meaning that it has plenty of cash to work with.

While Variety reports that Netflix has told creators in pitch meetings that their goal is to cap most series at three seasons, those close to Sarandos refute that, despite the streamer’s growing reputation for canceling shows relatively early on in their runs.

Sources say that while many series have been cut far shorter than fans would like, that is a bug, not a feature. Instead, Sarandos reportedly “enjoys Netflix’s freedom from the conventions of linear television and does not find it mandatory to set strict episode and season counts.”

Despite the reassurances that the streamer is giving writers and showrunners, many are looking to flesh out their pitches to Netflix in order to give them the best chance of getting picked up. Creators are reportedly presenting wider budget ranges and plans for different episode counts in case budgetary concerns become a deciding factor.

As Netflix is forced to contend with a saturated domestic market, the company is being forced to tighten its collective belt and is passing that on to customers and creators alike.

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