As Netflix continues to expand internationally, Ted Sarandos said he’s got sights on offering as many as 20 original scripted series per year as he sat in conversation with Netflix-friendly creators Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) on Wednesday at NATPE.
“I think we can launch — successfully, high quality — around 20 original scripted shows a year, which means every 2 1/2 to three weeks you’re launching a new season or a new show on Netflix meant to be for really diverse tastes all around the world,” he said.
The question came in reference to Netflix’s recent original series Marco Polo, a $90 million production that drew mixed reviews but, he said, played extremely well overseas. “The launch and completion rates were comparable with Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards, and more than that it’s happening around the world at the same time,” Sarandos said. “The season 2 pickup was based on that performance.”
Sarandos was joined at the NATPE panel by Gilligan, who credits Netflix’s carriage of back episodes with the show’s success, and Hurwitz, who signed a multi-year deal with the streaming giant and is exec producing Arrested star Will Arnett’s new Netflix comedy Flaked.
Another creative riding the Netflix train is Chelsea Handler, who left her late-night post at E! to host a new one for Netflix, to bow in 2016. Sarandos said Handler was unhappy with the gossipy turn her seven-year run on E! had taken and is resetting her brand starting with four Netflix comedy documentaries.
“They’ll be a way of her repositioning Chelsea away from what she was at E!,” he said. “The show became something she was not happy with. As you see in her stand-up, she’s much more funny than that. … (The new Netflix show will be) a lot less focused on the gossip page.”
Everything is coming up Netflix these days; in this week’s victorious earnings report the company revealed it will start streaming Sony’s The Interview in the U.S. and Canada on January 24. Sarandos couldn’t help but take a jab at his theater-owner rivals, who bailed on the pic in December over cyberterrorist threats, with another volley in the ongoing theatrical exhibition-vs.-digital distribution war.
“There are films like Interstellar where you cannot replicate the experience of seeing it in IMAX – it’s an amazing film presented in a spectacular way,” he said. “It really is an experience, like going to Disneyland, and you can’t replicate that by watching home videos of going to Disneyland. But there are plenty of movies where viewing at home experience is exactly the same.
“What’s happening right now is TV has never been better, but a big driver of why television is displacing movies in the culture is because the distribution for television has never been better either,” Sarandos continued. “People want to see Breaking Bad, they’re not going to miss it like they used to … whereas if you want to see a movie and don’t live anywhere near a theater, you have to wait at least a year to see it on Netflix. You have to wait at least four to six months to watch it on pay per view or buy it on DVD. It’s super-disconnected from what people want. Theater owners are exerting a lot of power over the studios to withhold access to content that people want to see. That’s bad for consumers, that’s bad for studios, and ultimately I think it will be bad for theaters.”
Check out the full panel discussion above (Q&A begins 35 minutes in).