No, Netflix Is Not Getting Into News Business: Sarandos

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos does not agree with FX CEO John Landgraf that television has almost reached a saturation point because of too much original scripted programming or “too much TV,” says a report from Deadline. Sarandos also clarified that the streaming firm is not entering the news business.

No, Netflix Is Not Getting Into News Business: Sarandos

Netflix can at least reveal viewership data to producers

At the annual State of the Industry luncheon of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, Sarandos said, “There’s no such thing as ‘Too much TV,’ unless we’re all spending more and not watching more. That’s not the case. That’s an extremely old lens.”

Streaming services have refused to reveal their viewership statistics, especially Netflix, and this is another topic that Landgraf debated publicly. It came up during the conversation as well. Sandra Stern, President of Lionsgate Television Group, which produces Netflix’s flagship series Orange is the New Black, said, “The absence of metrics is the absence of predictability.”

Stern said producers can tailor shows for each network’s brand with traditional ratings measurements, but with Netflix, they only have “anecdotal evidence.” To this, one of the co-panelists questioned if Ted (or Netflix) should publish ratings, to which Stern replied that it would be nice “if he’d send me a little note.”

Netflix not starting a news business

Addressing the recent headlines of Netflix expanding into the news business, Sarandos said his prior comments were misunderstood. During the third quarter conference call, Sarandos was asked if there was any possibility of Netflix competing with Vice. To this, the executive said, “Never say never.”

Now Sarandos says his comment were mistakenly taken as confirming rumors that Netflix had imminent plans. Netflix has plans of launching a weekly talk show next year with Chelsea Handler and producing documentary specials, but it has no plans of starting a news division, Sarandos clarified.

TV’s “written in stone” rules have been undone in the last five years, said Lee, who added that the long-held assumptions about race, moral complexity and character likability have been put aside now. Paul Lee, President of ABC Entertainment Group, said that TV storytelling is no longer about what’s least objectionable in an on-demand world. Lee believes this change is driving all sophisticated storytellers to television and away from film.

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