Ted Sarandos: Peak TV Is a ‘Backwards Idea’

Ted Sarandos may be the top driver of Peak TV, but he’s no fan of the concept.

“The notion of Peak TV is a completely backwards idea, which is that somehow you can have too much of things,” Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles. “That’s like having too many choices at the buffet. You’re only going to eat the things you like.”

Sarandos and filmmaker Ava DuVernay were interviewed together at the event by Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times. Sorkin asked Sarandos about the difficulty of marketing content in Peak TV — the term coined by FX Networks CEO John Landgraf for the glut of original series on television and streaming.

“We’re making a lot of television because tastes are incredibly diverse,” Sarandos said, defending his company’s high output of programming at a time of unprecedented competition. “The idea that there’s too much out there is silly, and it’s a very kind of analogue idea of how to make programming choices.” He added that next year Netflix’s budget “is likely to be $7 billion for content,” up from $6 billion this year. “I don’t know what the limit is. I don’t think we see it yet. We’re not bumping up against it yet — and I don’t think it’s crowding out things.”

Sarandos also spoke about his recent move to lure David Letterman back to television to host a long-form interview program, one that guarantees the former late-night comic $2 million an episode.

“Dave wanted to come back to television,” Sarandos said. “He has earned it, to come back on his terms. And his terms were to come back and produce a talk show that takes some of the characteristics of something like the Barbara Walters special and fuses them with what he does best, which is interview someone in front of a live audience and inject his brand of comedy into it.” The decision to move ahead with the show, was driven in part by viewer data and indications that the series could drive subscriptions. “But at the end of the day what it says is we can afford to pay Dave a number that makes sense for him to come back.”

DuVerney, who touted her upcoming film “A Wrinkle in Time” for Netflix competitor The Walt Disney Co., talked about her efforts to push for greater diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.

“When you do it, you get things like ‘Wonder Woman,'” she said. “When you do it, you get beautiful, beautiful features.”


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