×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix May Offer ‘Clean’ Versions of Its Shows to Some Subscribers

Netflix’s CES keynote quickly got raunchy when late-night talker Chelsea Handler took the stage Wednesday morning in Las Vegas, with Handler and fellow Netflix star Will Arnett joking about drugs, sex and horse genitalia. The internet video service used Handler’s appearance to tease her upcoming daily talk show, which will debut on Netflix this spring.

But as Netflix expands internationally and strikes distribution deals with a variety of service providers and even airlines, it may one day be offering sanitized versions of some of its content with special cuts to omit mature content, admitted Netflix CEO Reed Hastings during a post-keynote press conference.

Hastings said the company hasn’t decided yet on how to address issues around more mature content. “We’ll see and we’ll have to learn,” Hastings said in response to a question about local cultural sensibilities. He went on to compare the issue to “airplane cuts” — the type of edits studios frequently do to make their R-rated fare safe to be consumed in a semi-public space. “Entertainment companies have to make compromises over time,” he added.

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos jumped in to stress that Hollywood has been dealing with these issues for a long time, suggesting that Netflix may over time find similar answers.

The issue of airplane cuts isn’t entirely hypothetical for Netflix: The company began a partnership with Virgin America last year, streaming its catalog to Virgin passengers as part of the airline’s in-flight entertainment offering. As of now Netflix is making its entire catalog available to Virgin passengers, according to a Netflix spokesperson.

But content may also be an issue as Netflix is trying to enter some of its final markets this year. On Wednesday, Netflix announced the expansion into 130 additional countries. Altogether, Netflix is now available in 190 countries, covering almost the entire globe, with China being a notable exception.

Netflix needs to get government approval to launch in China, which tightly regulates all terrestrial and online broadcast. “It takes time working with the government,” Hastings said Wednesday, adding: “We are continuing to work on that, and we are very patient.” He didn’t go into details about some of the issues at stake, but it’s likely that China would like to have a final say on available content as well — and having clean versions of some of its shows could help with just that.

In fact, Netflix has already started to sanitize some of its content for a nearby market: Viewers in Japan don’t get to see full frontal nudity in shows like “Marco Polo.” Instead, they’re being served streams that pixelate nudity, like it is common on Japanese TV as well.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Tencent Music presentation at Shanghai

    Paying Users Push Tencent Music Entertainment to Greater Q3 Growth

    Tencent Music Entertainment (TME), one of China’s biggest online music entertainment platforms, saw better than expected revenue growth in its third quarter thanks to a rise in paywalls and paying users. Revenue beat analyst estimates by growing 31% to $910 million (RMB6.51 billion) for the quarter ending Sept. 30, up from RMB4.97 billion in the [...]

  • knives Out

    ‘Knives Out’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Lionsgate claims the top spot in spending with “Knives Out.” Ads placed for the drama had an estimated media value of $6.23 million through Sunday for 514 national ad airings on 28 networks. (Spend [...]

  • Disney-Plus-Logo

    Disney Plus Launch Snafus: What Went Wrong?

    For some users, Disney Plus was a Disney Minus on its big launch day Tuesday. In its Nov. 12 debut, the service was beset by multiple problems, including Disney Plus customers being unable to log in to the service, access specific content, or use certain streaming devices — while some who called Disney’s customer service [...]

  • YouTube Taps Shana Tepper as Head

    YouTube Taps Shana Tepper as Head of Entertainment Communications

    YouTube has tapped Shana Tepper as its head of entertainment communications. In her new role, Tepper will lead all press and communications strategies for YouTube Originals series and specials focused on personalities, artists and learning. Tepper joins YouTube from Viacom, where she most recently served as vice president of communications for Comedy Central and Paramount [...]

  • Richard Plepler HBO

    Former HBO Chief Richard Plepler Close to Signing Apple TV Plus Production Pact

    Former HBO chief Richard Plepler is close to signing an exclusive production pact with Apple TV Plus. Apple declined to comment and Plepler could not immediately be reached for comment. It’s understood that Plepler plans to launch a boutique production company designed to focus on a handful of high-profile projects. Among his advisors in pulling [...]

  • Sonos Spotify partnership

    Sonos Speakers Get Free Spotify Streaming

    Sonos owners just got access to another source for free music: The smart speaker maker has struck a deal with Spotify to stream Spotify’s free tier to its users, both companies announced Tuesday. Free Spotify streams are going live on Sonos devices with the latest Sonos software update, which also includes an updated version of [...]

  • looking glass display

    Looking Glass Factory Unveils 8K Holographic Display

    Holographic display hardware startup Looking Glass Factory unveiled its first real product Tuesday: the Looking Glass 8K Immersive Display aims to provide companies with a way to view 3D assets as holograms, without the need to use VR headsets. The product is being sold into the enterprise market, but the company also has plans to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content