Netflix productions “will be impacted” if the WGA goes on strike, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said today as executives followed their Q1 earnings release by having a conversation with two analysts that the company posted on YouTube.
Netflix would be less hard hit than many major networks because “we’re not on such a rigid production schedule” to accommodate fall or summer seasons, he added. But “some of our productions would be held up in the event of a strike, which our fingers are crossed that it won’t happen.”
In the rambling discussion, Sarandos said that Netflix is spending heavily on productions based in Hollywood because content creators do their best work when they feel comfortable.
“We want to invest in our talent the way we invest in our talent inside of Netflix and create the best shows on television,” he said. “One way of doing that is not having people travel all around to chase a tax credit.”
Indeed, he urged California to invest more in infrastructure rather than try to lure producers with tax credits. “If you give people a great place to work, they’ll come to work in your state,” he said.
Sarandos added that Netflix has a solid relationship with Hollywood, even as his company becomes more competitive with many networks and producers. “We’re an enormous customer of all the studios,” he said. “The networks and the studios have navigated those waters since the beginning of television.”
The content exec says that while Netflix is “engaged on the edges” of faith-based and politically conservative content, it’s “looking to do a lot more” — along with kids and family programming.
“The really exciting thing is when you get something that can be viewed by both” kids and adult audiences, Sarandos said. “You see that phenomenon around Stranger Things or Fuller House, where you have these co-viewing opportunities that are so rare on TV these days.”
CEO Reed Hastings said he remains bullish about Netflix’s growth prospects as it expects to cross the 100 million mark in global customers this weekend.
“A couple of years ago there was a lot of fear about the 30 million-sub wall — AOL had hit that and HBO had hit that,” he said. “The thing is, everybody watches TV and nearly everybody has the Internet. So I don’t see anything that’s going to stop Netflix from getting to most people in the United States and then potentially, hopefully, most people around the world.”
He’ll soon have a chance to jab Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes about his dismissive comment in 2010 likening the threat from Netflix to being attacked by “the Albanian army.”
“I got an invitation to go visit Albania,” Hastings said. “You may see some summer photographs of me with members of the Albanian army.”
He added that it’s “all in fun. Jeff Bewkes has been a great partner for us … and we think they’ll continue to be under AT&T.”
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