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Netflix stresses business as usual but confusion remains – analysis – deadline

Amid lower-than-expected subscriber growth and a subsequent round of roughly 150 layoffs, Netflix was everything everyone wanted to talk about at this week’s Banff World Media Festival. messages coming from Los Gatos headquarters.

A series of panels and keynotes were held for its executives, featuring Netflix, including with Global TV head Belaya Badzharia, to emphasize to the 1,500 delegates of the list of commissioners, executives and journalists that the streamer is still doing what they think he is. does. always did: hire the best producers, writers and directors to create the best shows.

“Back to basics” was the message of Bajaria, who ignored the need for “radical changes” in the ranks of streamers. Other junior employees have also promoted the BAU line privately, arguing that now is the time to cut the noise and focus on what Netflix has always done best.

But a few high-profile sources from the production community were less certain, reporting confusing reports from Netflix commissioners when it came to budgets and the types of programming they were looking for.

Executives have reported business-related difficulties in establishing how much is being offered for a particular show during contract negotiations, a twist on an era when Netflix was viewed as a blank check company.

Bajaria went on record laying out the streamer’s plans to spend $17 billion this year, but stumbled upon the question of where that spending would go if lower-than-expected growth continued, ultimately saying it would move “in parallel” .

“That moment seemed long overdue,” said the indie boss. “[Netflix] felt for a long time that they could do whatever they wanted, and I think that created a lot of problems.”

Defending Netflix’s “massive subscriber base and dominant” status in the marketplace, Kevin Beggs, Chairman Orange is the new black a producer from Lionsgate TV Group told Deadline that the streamer “may have to be more reasonable and disciplined in the future.”

Meanwhile, facing stiff competition from the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, as well as AVoD players like Roku, who were also in attendance at Banff, Netflix is ​​taking its time to figure out the direction it wants to take in such genres. like drama. and without a script, according to sources.

A recent round of 150 layoffs (there are rumored to be more) disrupted by Deadline, some of which were authorized, has only added to the confusion surrounding some projects.

Deadline recounted one case where a producer met with a commissioner about a project, emailed them a few hours later thanking them, only to receive an out of office message from the person saying he had been fired. According to some reports, many development projects have been cancelled.

In terms of acquisitions, one senior inside the sales house said that distributors are now more likely to sell shows to multiple local broadcasters piecemeal around the world rather than license Netflix worldwide. was unthinkable six months ago.

“Clearly Netflix is ​​paying less and getting fewer global rights,” they added. “Netflix is ​​more careful with money and is cutting windows, so if we can get more money by selling, say, LANs in France, Germany and Australia, we will.”

One executive predicted that Netflix could weather the storm, pointing to Reed Hastings’ public turnaround over Qwikster’s unfortunate DVD rental split a decade ago.

Canadian battlefield

Netflix dominating the conversation at a festival in Canada felt appropriate as the country is the latest setting for the many regulatory battles the streamer faces. Members of the Canadian government, producers and trade bodies are currently pushing a bill through Parliament called C11 that would ensure that streamers must order a certain amount of local content and meet government-set obligations for Canadian content (known as CanCon).

People like Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission Chairman Ian Scott were in Banff to argue for C11, while privately Canadian industry spokesmen opposed Netflix’s activities in the country. One said Canada was being treated like a “manufacturing services industry”, adding, “If they want to take advantage of our country, they have to make shows about Canada by Canadians.”

This may not be what was meant back in 2019 when Netflix pledged to spend 500 million Canadian dollars ($383 million) on English and French-language content from the country. Also of note is Netflix’s largest Canadian series, Shitta screamthe CBC was created and the streamer was not involved with the show until the third season.

Repulsion

With a similar battle raging in Israel, as Deadline recently reported, it’s no surprise to hear Netflix is ​​fighting back.

Providing recent evidence to the Legacy Committee, Netflix Canada director of public policy Stephan Carden, who used to do the same job at the Canada Media Foundation, said the streamer has spent $3.5 billion on Canadian movies and series since 2017.

“We remain concerned about a rigid approach that will simply shift the current regulatory requirements of Canadian broadcasters to online streaming services,” he said, noting that Netflix would not have enough flexibility to meet commitments in areas such as news, sports and that titles produced or funded solely by Netflix would still not qualify.

“It would not create a level playing field for everyone and would not be fair or equitable,” he added.

Back in Banff, commissioners from Peter Freelander’s writing team told an interested audience that they are currently traveling the length and breadth of the country meeting with producers while keeping market rates in mind so as not to cause the budget inflation that has engulfed other markets such as GREAT BRITAIN.

The debate reflects the challenges Netflix may continue to face as it delves into local territory in search of the next one. squid game, Lupine or money robbery.

More generally, the battle to get the streamer back to his comfortable treetop seat is definitely in full swing.

“There are so many ways to consume content right now,” mused one senior industry source. “What will happen to Netflix in the long run? Hard to say”.

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