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Netflix CCO talks Qwikster, global streaming and how piracy can help determine content

Posted at 04 October 2011 13:00 CEST by Justin_Massoud

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, discussed his company’s decision to split its DVD by-mail and instant streaming services into two distinct brands on Monday at the MIPCOM conference held in Cannes, France.

Following his keynote address at the event, Miramax CEO Mike Lang interviewed Sarandos about Netflix’s past, present and future – a “fireside chat,” as he put it. The studio boss wasted no time asking the one question that’s been on Netflix subscribers’ minds since they first heard the word Qwikster just two weeks ago: why?

“We we born a DVD through the mail company, but we were actually born as a digital distribution company at heart – which is why we named the company Netflix,” said Sarandos. “We quickly became known and loved as a DVD company. And as we more become a global brand and more become a streaming global brand, the DVD by-mail business is very strictly domestic. The idea was to create a separate brand that could actually continue to nurture and grow the DVD through-the-mail business, but by offering more and more brand clarity to Netflix as a global streaming product.”

Sarandos also dismissed Netflix’s recent falling out with major content provider Starz as “a uniquely domestic opportunity” and not in line with the company’s eagerness to land new streaming deals in other territories.

When asked about future expansions and content deals (the service launched in Latin America and Caribbean countries in September), Sarandos said that discerning what works and what doesn’t requires a new approach.

To prove his point, the executive said “H20″ – an Australian program – performs very well on Netflix within the U.S. market, while CBS’ “Jericho” is an early hit in Latin America. 60 percent of Netflix streaming customers prefer to watch TV shows over movies, he revealed – a statistic which makes the company’s decision to maintain content deals and develop original programming an easy one.

Sarandos announced that Netflix nabbed the streaming rights to Norwegian mob drama “Lilyhammer,” starring “The Sopranos” alum Stevie Van Zandt. The company is also developing a U.S.-based reinvention of Britain’s “House of Cards” mini-series with David Fincher at the helm.

“The main thing I think we have to do when we think about global is put aside all of our preconceived notions about what people like and what they don’t,” he said. “If you want to see what people really want, look at what they’re stealing.”

Sarandos didn’t write off movies altogether (Netflix and Miramax inked a non-exclusive movie deal in May), but he pointed out that when people are watching television programming on Netflix as much as they are ignoring that demand would be a mistake. Right now, the company is high on television. But will people tune in? (via Home Media Magazine)

What do you make of Sarandos’ remarks? Let us know in the comment section.

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There are 2 comments

MyCE Junior Member
Posted on: 04 Oct 11 16:36
    You know, one of the main reason why I watch more TV series on Netflix than movies is because they don't have a very good movie selection - most of their movies are weak B movies instead of the the big blockbusters of our day, and I'll bet that I'm not alone in that regard. Get more of today's movies, Netflix!!!
    Dedicated DoMi groupie
    Posted on: 04 Oct 11 20:24
      Yes, I agree with you jkingjr, I'm hoping the streaming industry grows a lot more. I think it will when more competitors enter the ring. I still feel streaming movie industry is still in its infancy and if someone is looking to invest in a growing industry it exists right here.
      If the pricing curve is set correctly I think it will be capable of cutting piracy by 80%. Why would I pirate any movie that I can get reliably and for a reasonable monthly cost that I can get on Netflix? It wouldn't make sense.

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