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Netflix exec defends impact on TV biz

Sarandos cites benefits to nets, MSOs, studios

Netflix is more friend than enemy to studios, TV channels and distributors, contends the company’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, in an appearance at an investors conference Wednesday.

Sarandos sought to clarify the many ways the streaming service is beneficial to the businesses who have had their share of friction with Netflix with issues including the potential for audience cannibalization. Some analysts have faulted Netflix for driving big ratings declines at Viacom-owned kids network Nickelodeon, which licenses select programs to the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company.

But in an appearance the Nomura 2nd Annual U.S. Media & Telecom Summit, Sarandos argued that Netflix doesn’t compete with cable’s highest rated programming like sports and other live events, actually drives tune-in to new programming by providing access to library content and increases the value of the MSO broadband business given its dominance of video streaming.

“We’ve been so controversial yet so complementary for their core businesses,” said Sarandos in an Q&A with Nomura analyst Michael Nathanson.

Sarandos also cited the output deals Netflix has with TV networks the CW and AMC as crucial to the financial health of those operations. “What’s important to note is that you look at programming at CW, Netflix license fees makes that content profitable,” he said. “Without it, it was struggling along. Same would be true of AMC shows as well.”

Sarandos shrugged off the impact of losing its licensing deal with Starz, which supplied films from Sony and Disney, back in February. He noted that a flurry of newer deals in the pay-TV window will drive many of the top titles at the box office from the first quarter of the year to Netflix, in addition to Oscar winners including “The Artist.”

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