Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said the streaming giant’s global content machine is not entirely shut down but currently in production in South Korea and Iceland, and that the company can take what it’s learning there around the world as more areas start to open.
The situation is fluid, Sarandos said, but “those two countries are very aggressive about testing and tracking early” so they can “lay the groundwork for our future rollouts.” He made the remarks during a video chat following the streamer’s first-quarter earnings.
He didn’t name the shows. But his comments highlight a big advantage Netflix has in the current pandemic that has shuttered film and television production: it’s the world’s biggest producer of global content and can ramp up production at any of its hubs whenever they’re ready.
Iceland, which has the smallest population in Europe, has tested 10% of its people for coronavirus, more than any other country in the world. And South Korea launched a massive testing and contact-tracing effort that has kep the virus in check.
In the U.S., states like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have recently either opened some businesses or announced plans to allow a degree of economic activity to resume this month – but it’s not at all clear how companies, businesses and employees will react.
Sarandos said Neflix production can’t resume without rigorous testing. “We have to be able to look our employees and cast and crew in the eyes and say, ‘This is a safe place to work’,” he said. The company is working closely on assessments with production partners and local governments.