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Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos provides latest production updates

Pandemic-driven production stoppage won’t affect 2021 pipeline: Netflix during Q1 earnings call

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) did not deliver an exceptional quarter like many were hoping for when it reported first-quarter results last evening. EPS came in below street consensus while the topline barely managed to reach the expected level. However, investors were surprised by one metric: global paid net subscriber additions.

Net subscriber adds came stood at 15.77 million, almost double of what Wall Street was expecting. The management agreed that the pandemic-driven lockdowns were a big contributing factor to the growth, which is expected to continue in Q2 as well. Meanwhile, the company expects weakness in the latter half of the year as lockdowns are removed.

During the earnings conference call, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos shared numerous updates about the company content and production situation, which are fodder for binge-watchers and investors alike. Also look out for the content recommendations at the end of the article, coming directly from the chief executives.

On production stoppage due to COVID-19

Our 2020 slate of series and films are largely shot and are in post-production remotely in locations all over the world. So we’re actually pretty deep into our 2021 slate. For example, The Crown, in its fourth season; and our big fourth quarter animated release, Over the Moon – are in the finishing stages right now to release later this year as planned. So we don’t anticipate moving the schedule around much and certainly not in 2020.

On production restart

“We have to be able to look our employees, our cast and crew in the eye and say that this is a safe place to work before we do that. And we’re going to be working very closely with our production partners, with local governments to make sure that we can do that. We’re currently in production in Iceland and Korea. We’re taking some of those key learnings about how we run those productions today and applying that to our plans to start our productions around the world.

On episode spacing strategy

“On our competition shows, we had an enormous success last quarter with Love is Blind with staggered release. And then we just released Too Hot to Handle, which are on track to be probably our biggest competition show ever, and it was released all at once. We believe that consumers like the control of all-at-once, and they could watch at their own pace. So I don’t see us moving away from that meaningfully.

Original vs. licensed content in a COVID-disrupted production environment

“There are some things in the short-term dynamics. We can look to work with some of our partners to enhance that a little bit with things like, we put in the letter, licensing Lovebirds and Enola Holmes and this big film from Korea called Time to Hunt that’s coming out this week. We’ve been able to do that and enhance in the short term. In the long term, we’re trying to make more frequently than we buy. And so that’s kind of an ongoing trajectory towards owned original.

Areas that Netflix wants to push into in the unscripted space

We want to make your favorite show. For some people, that’s big pedigree drama. And for other people, that’s home improvement shows. So we’ve been pushing out into each of those verticals beyond the true crime space and the competition space. We’ve done cooking shows like with Nailed It and Chef’s Table, and we’re now pushing more of the kind into the home improvement and real estate space, which is also quite popular with our members.

What are the Netflix executives watching and recommending?  

When asked about content recommendations from the C-level executives, there were numerous names that kept popping up repeatedly. All the executives were equally thrilled about its upcoming action film Extraction, featuring Chris Helmsworth, to be released on Friday.

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Apart from that the management was gung-ho about dating show Too Hot to Handle, drama series Unorthodox and sitcom #blackAF. Other recommendations include anime Ghost in the Shell, crime drama Ozark and Indian film Yeh Ballet.

Looking for more insights? Read the full transcript here. It’s free!

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