When Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos addresses the 2012 NAB Show on Tuesday, he’ll be representing the company that has emerged as perhaps the single largest buyer of filmed entertainment on the planet. But Sarandos’ approach to the marketplace is a lot more sophisticated than just buying in bulk.
There was a time when Netflix practically had the market to itself for catalog TV and film titles. But the company’s incredible growth over the years has attracted competitors from Hulu to Amazon, who have mined some of the same studio vaults. The creeping commoditization of programming among digital platforms has prompted Sarandos to up his game.
“The more that content is sold into multiple outlets, the lower appetite I’ll have for that and the higher appetite I’ll have for more premium content,” he says.
While Netflix has gotten a lot of attention in recent months for licensing as many as five original series including a revival of the Fox comedy “Arrested Development,” he’s also employed other acquisition strategies that aren’t quite as sexy.
Sarandos struck unprecedented output deals with TV networks the CW and AMC that will ensure a steady pipeline of buzzworthy series. ” ‘Mad Men’ has thrived on Netflix, which is a great home for serialized dramas,” he said.
On the film front, Netflix has bid away titles from the likes of DreamWorks Animation and Relativity in the pay TV window from such usual buyers as HBO. Sarandos says he isn’t done adding to Netflix’s movie collection, hinting he’ll go as far as taking on HBO to wrest away the output deal from the channel’s sister studio, Warner Bros. While the pact doesn’t expire until 2014, he could find himself at the negotiation table sooner than later.
“I wouldn’t suspect that all these deals are going to play out to their organic expirations,” he says. “The entire space is very fluid.”
Blue? Red? Think Green | Sarandos tweaking Netflix’s strategy | NAB fetes broadcasting’s best