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Netflix’s Sarandos Not Surprised By Competition, But That They Took So Long

Stephanie Sengwe

The streaming wars have been quite a hot topic over the past year or so, and while it may seem as though the hype happened suddenly, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos says he always felt they were inevitable.

When Netflix became popular in the early 2010s they were the only service of their kind, allowing viewers to binge-watch their favorite programming, a business model which was doubted by many, Sarandos told Katie Couric at the Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit. Today, as we know, there are four other services—Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and Peacock—coming in to occupy the space in which Netflix dominates and Amazon and Hulu have taken a substantial share.

For Sarandos however, it is not the fact that these streaming services want to occupy the market that comes as a surprise, but the fact that they took so long to do so. Last December, the internet went haywire when it was revealed that Friends would be leaving the streamer. Netflix tapered the mayhem announcing that the show would be available till the end of this year. Then in June, it was announced that The Office would also be leaving, and going to Peacock. All this for Sarandos, was not so shocking.

“I was surprised it took everyone so long. Then when they were selling us their content years ago, I was surprised every time, but they sold it to us and helped us build a big audience,” Sarandos explained. “This is why we made House of Cards seven years ago. I said, ‘some day, these guys are not going to sell us their programming and we better get good at it’ and that was our first investment seven years ago.”

Netflix’s steep pricing also came into question as most of the upcoming services are in significantly cheaper the Netflix. For Sarandos and the team at Netflix, however, as long as they keep putting out quality content, their subscriber base will stay. “We are totally customer focused. We are singularly focused—we make great television and films for our customers, we sell it to them on a subscription basis and we deliver it to them seamlessly,” he told Couric.

“We are hyper focused on that and we have no other business conflicts within the company to support or make changes around and we just have to keep doing that. We’ve been competing since day one…it’s not about the price, it’s about the value. If people are getting enough value relative to the price, they’re in. If we thought it was a bigger business to have a lower price and less content, then we’d be looking at that too.”

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