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Netflix’s Ted Sarandos: Acquisition by Larger Media Company Would Hamstring Us

Ted Sarandos
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos threw cold water on the notion that the company was interested in being acquired, saying the large and diverse nature of a hypothetical media-conglomerate parent would present difficulties for Netflix to maintain its pure-play business model.

“We’ve been maniacally focused on one product,” said Sarandos, speaking at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference on Monday. “We sell a product in a way big companies aren’t able to do because they’re so big.”

Sarandos was responding to a question about whether Netflix would benefit from being acquired by a bigger player. Rumors have kicked around Wall Street recently that Disney might be interested in buying Netflix. Speculation also has surfaced that a big tech company like Apple might make a play for Netflix; Apple CEO Tim Cook in October said the company was “open to acquisitions of any size” that are strategically aligned with its businesses.

Sarandos, in his comments at the UBS conference, noted that with large media congloms, one division makes programming and another buys it — and sometimes they can’t sell it to themselves. Such inter-company conflicts within those companies would “make it difficult to stay as disciplined as we’ve been,” Sarandos said.

At the same time, Sarandos said that “consolidation will be a necessary outcome” in the media business as the pay-TV sector continues to struggle and advertising rates decline.

Also at the UBS conference, Sarandos said Netflix will double its original series slate in 2017, up from 30 that are in production or released today. That’s set to include some 20 unscripted TV shows, including Sylvester Stallone’s “Ultimate Beastmaster” reality competition series.