Ted Sarandos talks about Netflix’s future at Cannes Lions – The Hollywood Reporter

It’s official: there are ads on Netflix.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions advertising festival on Thursday, Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed that the streaming giant’s future will include face-explaining ads. Netflix has long been averse to advertising its subscription service, but after posting disappointing figures last quarter that showed it was losing 200,000 subscribers, the company said it would introduce a cheaper, ad-supported tier for its service in an effort to bring new ones. to bring in customers.

“We’ve left a big customer segment off the table, namely people who say, ‘Hey, Netflix is ​​too expensive for me and I don’t mind advertising,'” Sarandos said on Thursday, speaking on the Cannes Lions stage with To wave podcast host Kara Swisher. “We’re adding an ad layer; we don’t add ads to Netflix as you know it today. We’re adding an ad tier for people who say, ‘Hey, I want a lower price and I’ll watch ads.’”

Netflix’s presence at Cannes Lions – this is the streamer’s first time attending the global ad confab – is a clear sign that the company is committed to embracing the ad industry. Sarandos confirmed that the company is in talks with potential ad sales partners. Sarandos will also be honored this year with the Cannes Lions’ Entertainment Person of the Year award.

It remains to be seen whether a new ad tier will be the solution to Netflix’s growth problems. As the company’s stock price has fallen, there has been growing speculation that the streamer could be the target of a takeover.

Sarandos admitted that a buyout “is always a reality, so we have to think about that with wide eyes,” but insisted that Netflix itself could return to growth. “We have enough scale, profitability and free cash flow to continue growing this business,” he noted.

The Netflix executive dismissed the company’s recent stock decline as part of the inevitable ups and downs in the still relatively fledgling business of online streaming.

“We have gained experiences where the market is breaking away from” [our] core business and you have to prove that the thesis still works, and will work for the long term. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world today, and if they get something that turns the foundation of the story upside down, they get nervous.”

Noting that streaming was still only “about 10 percent of what people do on TV,” Sarandos claimed there was still “a lot of room to grow” for Netflix.

Sarandos once again defended his stance in support of controversial Netflix comedy specials from Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais, saying Netflix “has always been a supporter of the arts” and that the service “programs for people with a real variety of tastes and sensitivities.” , noting that what is considered offensive varies from person to person.

“We won’t make everyone happy, but that’s the beauty of on-demand: you can turn it off. The reason comedy is so hard is that we don’t all laugh at the same thing. We all cry about the same thing, so drama is a little easier to make, but when it comes to comedy, it’s all very different,” he said. “Part of the art form is to cross the boundary, and part of the art form means you only find the boundary by crossing it sometimes. Supporting expression is really important.”

On Chapelle, who has been sharply criticized by the LGBTQ+ and trans community for some of the jokes in his recent Netflix specials, Sarandos doubled down and said Netflix would fight for the right to show its content “all the way to the Supreme Court”. He noted that Netflix “never took” [a Chappelle special] anywhere in the world,” saying that “diversity of thought, expression, is super important to defend. It’s good for culture, it’s good for society — not just for the US, but everywhere.”

However, Sarandos acknowledged that he “should have been more empathetic” with some of his own employees at Netflix when they revealed that they were upset about some of the content on the platform. “That’s what I regret, but the decision was very important worldwide,” he said.

The Cannes Lions 2022 runs until Friday 24 June.

Leave a Comment