Netflix VP Acquisitions Amy Reinhard says she is “confident” the streaming giant is going to weather the loss of major content like Friends, The Office and a wide swath of Disney fare. But she acknowledged that a lot of rivals are about to knock on the door.
In an appearance at the NATPE Streaming Plus conference in Los Angeles, Reinhard recalled arriving at Netflix in 2016 and working through periods when major tranches of programming from Fox and Discovery left the service. “I was sure it was going to make a dent,” she said. “But when you look at how consumers are migrating, they just find other content to watch.”
The boom in new, well-funded services from Disney, WarnerMedia, Apple and NBCUniversal over the next nine months is going to put more pressure on Netflix, Reinhard acknowledged.
“I think it’s going to be very competitive,” she said. Traditional media companies have “rich, robust libraries” to draw from, and deep experience in world-building. That said, “there are varying degrees of what we know about how all in they’ll be in terms of opening up the catalog.”
Reinhard spoke from experience. Prior to Netflix, she had a long stint at Paramount (rising to president of worldwide TV licensing and distribution) after starting her career at Revolution Studios.
While much has been made about Friends and The Office leaving Netflix in the U.S., many shows will remain on Netflix internationally. Securing foreign rights to U.S. TV shows, in fact, remains a major growth area. Disney, Reinhard pointed out, is the only streaming players that has divulged plans to distribute internationally.
That should leave a broad opportunity for Netflix to continue growing. Reinhard and her team acquire film and TV content globally and handle foreign local-language acquisitions in Latin America, Europe and India.
Recently, Netflix has partnered with U.S. studios, taking international rights to film releases. Two recent examples were Warner Bros’ Shaft and Isn’t it Romantic?
Reinhard took the audience through the strategic process with the Rebel Wilson-starring Isn’t it Romantic? “When you do the comps, you expect it to be in that $40 million-$45 million range domestically, and then you struggle to see how it would do internationally,” she said, describing the traditional approach. At Netflix, by contrast, “there’s certain value you can ascribe to the international rights. … You’re not waiting for TV windows six years down the road.” Because it’s remunerative all at once, she argued, it’s “win-win for everybody.”
While Reinhard would not reveal numbers, she said Shaft “performed up to our expectations” internationally. “But the reality is, it didn’t meet expectations here.” That soft start “was a test in and of itself,” she said. “How would a film perform when the U.S. box office wasn’t at the level where it was expected to be?”
Asked about the recent swoon in Netflix’s stock-market valuation, which destroyed some $24 billion in paper value in a week and a half after wobbly second-quarter financial results, Reinhard shrugged, “We take more of a long view.”
International markets like the UK, Germany and France are fairly mature and saturated, but emerging areas (Reinhard mentioned Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa) have upside. Netflix can make a dramatic impact with acquired titles, she said, in “countries that have distinct tastes and wants but may not be the first ones we go after with an originals opportunity.”
The decision-making is specific to the territory, however. “India gets almost no traction from Hollywood content,” she said. “Local film is what people want to see.”