Ted Sarandos on Q1 2024 earnings call

Source: Screengrab

Ted Sarandos on Q1 2024 earnings call

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has pushed back against a recent press report and said Netflix would not be reducing the number or quality of its features under new film head Dan Lin.

“There is no appetite to make fewer films,” Sarandos told a first quarter earnings call after an analyst asked about a recent article in The New York Times which said Lin would make “better, cheaper and less frequent” films.

The executive noted neither Lin nor any Netflix executive had taken part in the article, adding: “[B]ut there is an unlimited appetite to make better films, always, even though we have made and are making great films. We want to make them better of course.”

There has been plenty of speculation that the arrival of Lin would herald a sea change after years of high output and some budgets reportedly running to $200m. Under former Netflix film head Scott Stuber, Netflix released around 50 features in 2023, and his tenure also delivered multiple Oscar wins and dozens of nominations.

Sarandos continued, “Bela [Bajaria, chief content officer] has said this publicly: our strategy remains variety and quality… We want to have a lot of movies and we want them to thrill our audience; they all have different tastes, and we want them to be great.”

As the founder of Rideback, Lin produced Aladdin and Haunted Mansion with Disney, and as production head at Warner Bros he produced entries in the It, Lego and Sherlock Holmes franchises.

Rideback produced The Two Popes and the series Avatar: The Last Airbender for Netflix, which Sarandos said meant “he understands Netflix and the audience really, really well and his success in live-action and animation is very hard to find in this business and were thrilled he’s doing it here”.

Netflix has embraced a robust licensing strategy of features and shows from legacy studios and television companies. Sarandos said there were no plans to spend more on film and television than the $17bn forecast for 2024.

“The floodgates have opened a little more on licensing, for sure,” he said, adding that he was “pretty comfortable” with the current rate of growth.

CFO Spence Neumann confirmed, “The vast majority of our content spend is still into original programming and it is and is likely to continue to be.”