Fresh off showing the Vanity Fair Summit what journalism actually looks like in her sit-down yesterday with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Katie Couric wasted no time Wednesday jumping in with Netflix’s Ted Sarandos with the declaration that “the sharks are circling.”
“We’ve been competing since Day One,” the streamer’s chief content officer said of the wave of new digital services like AppleTV+ and Disney+ that are coming online in the next month, and how back when Netflix was sending out DVDs in little red envelopes the company was fighting against “pretty scary big companies” like Blockbuster and Walmart.
“We have one product,” Sarandos said, in comparison to the iPhone manufacturer and Disney’s theme-park-and-more conglomerate among the new kids on the streaming block. “We make great television and films for our customers …and we have to keep doing that.” Long story short from Sarandos in a wide-ranging chat with Couric: “We’re about change and keeping things fresh.”
In a fast-paced early-morning interview with the former CBS News anchor, Sarandos was put on notice just how intently the industry is watching how Netflix will withstand the onslaught of streaming competitors. With the deep pockets and decades of content at Tim Cook’s and Bob Iger’s companies, Sarandos was pressed on the true bottom line.
“Our stock rise is not for the faint of heart — it’s a long story,” Sarandos said of how Wall Street and the market has reacted to missed subscriber targets, and big moves like this week’s announcement that Disney+ is teaming with Verizon to offer the November 12-launching streaming service free to customers of the telecom. Today actually, Netflix stock is up about 2% in the first half of the trading day.
Sarandos was bluntly pressed by Couric if the top team at Netflix has considered getting out of the way as Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal bring their games to the streaming field over the next year.
“We have no plans” to sell, the erudite executive stated, adding he had “never discussed selling the company” with founder and CEO Reed Hastings
“It’s not about the price, it’s about the value,” Sarandos said about the Netflix philosophy and attitude towards lower-priced newbies and the multitude of libraries and original content they will be dropping soon on choice-rich consumers.
BTW – if you are keeping a running tally, there was yet another reference to HBO’s Succession this morning. From Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones to Sarandos and others, the Emmy-wining media mogul drama is the hot show among the Info Elite.
It probably has James Murdoch dreading another question in his summit session later today about the series somewhat based on his family – rich people problems.