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Netflix: two-thirds of viewing is on series

TV series, including Netflix’s own original productions, now account for two thirds of viewing time on the SVOD service, according to Ted Sarandos.

Ted Sarandos largeSpeaking at the RTS London Conference yesterday, Netflix’s chief content officer, said that it was more efficient to spend money on originals than on licensing high profile content, and said that it made sense to make both TV shows and films – despite more watch-time going to series.

“With all the success of the ‘golden age of television’, and all the success that we’ve had in this period of time, about a third of the watching on Netflix is still movies. Keep in mind this is two hour movies versus 13 hour shows,” said Sarandos.

He claimed that the way movies are licensed to pay TV services today is “probably the most out-of-step licensing window” and that making people wait to watch movies online means that they don’t “assign a lot of subscription value to that watching activity”.

“To have people wait seven to ten months in the internet age doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think what you end up with in these pay deals is movies that either people saw already because they were excited about them or they made a conscious decision not to see them,” said Sarandos.

“We’re investing in films so that we can more aggressively give the consumer what they’re telling us they want, which is the movies when they open.”

Discussing Netflix’s original series plans, Sarandos echoed recent claims by Netflix’s chief finance officer, David Wells, that the company aims to move to a 50-50 split between licensed and original content.

“That’s where it’s heading and that’s what we set out to do many years ago,” said Sarandos. “If we get to a place where we’re missing more than we’re hitting or that efficiency metric goes the other way, we may revisit that number, but that’s our intent – to do most of our programming original.”

In terms of the type of content that Netflix is focused on, Sarandos said that its originals should be “brand-defining, tent pole shows”. He stressed that each programme should stand out under the wider Netflix umbrella and that the company is not trying to “do everything that feels or looks the same”.

He also said that Netflix likes to work with film-makers as they enter the television world as big films have historically “been more global than television”. This follows Netflix’s recent launch of the Baz Luhrman-created musical drama The Get Down.

Sarandos claimed that doing original series makes sense not only in terms of efficient spend but also in distinguishing Netflix as a destination rather than another outlet for the same programming that other services carry.