|Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, left, was named to Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He appears with actress Famke Janssen, center, and actor Dougray Scott, at the North American premiere of the latest Netflix original series, "Hemlock Grove."|
Two years after Netflix's Chief Executive Reed Hastings was named to Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has joined him.Sarandos made this year's list of global movers and shakers, alongside hip-hop artist and entrepreneur Jay-Z, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Oscar-winning actressJennifer Lawrence and Pope Francis.Actor Jeffrey Tambor, who plays George Bluth on"Arrested Development" -- a canceled series brought back to life by the subscription TV and movie delivery service -- wrote the Time tribute."Ted is helping create the future of entertainment," Tambor wrote. "I don’t know what it will look like, but I know it’s going to be huge, and it will influence young artists who want to get their work out there because they have something to say. This is only the beginning."Sarandos is helping bring a fourth season of "Arrested," an offbeat comedy series that originally aired on Fox from 2003-2006 and is enjoying newfound popularity on Netflix, to subscribers on May 26. He also was the architect of the original series, "House of Cards," a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey, which Netflix said was its most watched title when it premiered (all 13 episodes in one big binge) Feb. 1.The high-profile, home-grown show -- an adaptation of a popular BBC series -- was intended to help differentiate the service from online rivals including Amazon.com and Hulu. Netflix's all-at-once release strategy triggered debate about how it might reshape television viewing habits. It used the same approach last Friday,
when it released the supernatural horror/thriller "Hemlock Grove."
Time’s influential 100 includes Netflix upstart
The only TV programming boss to make it on the latest list of Time’s most influential 100 isn’t of the traditional variety: Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who is leading the charge to put top-notch original comedies and dramas on an Internet-based entertainment service.
Movers & Shakers: Ted Sarandos -- Netflix's King of Content
Ted Sarandos wants to turn Netflix into the next HBO, and he'll spend hundreds of millions to do it.
One of Hollywood's biggest players isn't a household name like Steven Spielberg or Harvey Weinstein, but a former video store clerk who knows what people like to watch. That man is Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix's expanding empire, and he won't hesitate to go after any movie or TV series in a quest to push to the top.
Cable and satellite providers are reeling from the advent of high-speed Internet. Rivals stream content, but few have the Netflix's reach into homes like Netflix -- and that's all because of Sarandos and his wheeling and dealing. He greenlit the push to original content and now snaps up everything he can get his hands on.
Few executives can match his dedication -- he brings a devout fan's love of entertainment to his job. But he isn't satisfied with re-runs and so-called "cult classics." If you cut the cable cord and change how you watch television, he believes the replacement must be as good, if not better.
From Video Store Clerk to Leader
Sarandos doesn't come to Hollywood with money, but as a man with a true love of movies. Raised in Arizona with three older sisters and a younger brother, both his parents were high school dropouts. His father became an electrician, and his overwhelmed mother was a housewife who left the television on all day.
"With five kids in the house, it was pretty chaotic, so I took comfort from what I watched on TV," he told the New York Times. "The structure of TV was the structure of my life. I scheduled myself around when shows were on, because I didn't have any other kind of scheduling."
Shortly after enrolling at a community college, he found a job as a clerk at Arizona Video Cassettes West, one of the first rental stores in the state. Before long, he ran all eight branches of the chain. He jokes he was the "original algorithm" because he advised customers what to watch next, much like what Netflix does with views today. Eventually, he jumped to become president of product and merchandising for Video City, another large chain, before Netflix founder Reed Hastings poached him into the company.
A New Kind of Video Store
Hastings started Netflix in 1997, after he paid $40 in overdue fines. He launched the Netflix site in 1998, but followed the traditional pay-per-movie rental model. When Sarandos came aboard in 2000, they shifted to a flat-fee, unlimited structure. Five years later, the company was shipping out a million DVDs each day from its 35,000 title warehouse. Then in 2007, Netflix introduced its video-on-demand service, reflecting a change in consumer viewing habits. Streaming was the future, and the company began to bulk up on online content.
Last year, however, Hastings introduced yet another twist: he split up DVD and streaming services, charging customers nearly twice as much to rent through the mail. They were furious about the revamped pricing, so it relented and switched back to its earlier model with slightly higher prices, luring customers back. But Netflix faces increased competition in streaming. To stay competitive, Sarandos made a critical choice -- to move into original content.
Transition to Original Programming
Sarandos decided Netflix should include its own programs. It wants to be the HBO of streaming -- and for that, it needs its high-quality, and expensive, original shows. He first secured the rights and commissioned episodes to Fox cult favorite, "Arrested Development." But his big move was the original series "House of Cards." The political drama that paired director The Social Network director David Fincher with Kevin Spacey proved to be a real coup, kicking off its plan tocapitalize on franchises.
In the few weeks since its release, it's already Netflix' most-watched title, and while Sarandos wouldn't share ratings -- because it's an "apples-to-oranges comparison" to television, he said Netflix is thrilled with its $100 million two-season investment. The show is paying off not only in advertising, but also increased subscribers and credibility among Hollywood.
You can expect more original shows, like "Hemlock Grove," produced by Eli Roth and "Orange Is the New Black," a comedy set in a women's prison, created by Jenji Kohan, who developed Showtime's series "Weeds." Unlike traditional networks, Netflix releases all the episodes of a series at once, so you can binge-watcheverything on an idle Saturday, and not wait a week for the next installment. Sarandos also discovered that when you have an all-you-can-eat buffet, you enjoy your favorites more.
He also focuses on the youth audience. Earlier this month, Netflixinked a dealwith DreamWorks Animation to create its first children's series. "Turbo: FAST" follows the adventures of a snail who gains speedy powers after an accident. Netflix plans to release all 26 episodes in December, after DreamWorks releases a "Turbo" film in July.
"Netflix boasts one of the largest and fastest-growing audiences in kids' television," said Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation's CEO. "They pioneered a new model for TV dramas with 'House of Cards', and now together, we're doing the same thing with kids' programming."
Making New Deals
Original content is turning Netflix into a Hollywood rival, and Sarandos has to delicately navigate Tinseltown politics. He'll need to convince studio big-wigs to trust that Netflix as the ideal partner help transition them to the digital age -- no small feat amid Internet piracy.
He's had setbacks and faced hostility, but he's also marked a few victories in recent months. Last year, Netflix signed a "game-changing" deal, Sarandos said, making it the exclusive distributor for Disney films, including Pixar and Marvel, and classics like "Dumbo" and "Pocahontas," in the pay TV window.
And he's looking for more deals with studies, including Warner Bros., to keep the content flowing. Warner's film rights deal with HBO -- also part of the Time Warner umbrella -- expires in 2014, and Sarandos said he hopes to outbid for it. But just for good measure, HBO didn't like animated content, so he snapped up titles like "The Lorax" and "Para Norman" too. The real goal, though, is to show studios proof that "there are other ways" to do business.
What the Future Holds
Sarandos has a hard road ahead. He needs to convince Hollywood that Netflix isn't the enemy, and it won't run them into bankruptcy. Instead, he insists content deals are beneficial for both parties. House of Cards is a sign people are hungry for original shows, but even Sarandos admits, you still join Netflix to watch your favorite movies and television shows -- and it doesn't have enough to challenge the more-powerful networks, like HBO.
In addition, producing original shows is incredibly expensive, so if Netflix can't bank off the success, it'll need traditional content to keep viewers around. After all, if there's nothing to watch, you'll go elsewhere, even if they don't have Kevin Spacey as a congressman.♦
The only TV programming boss to make it on the latest list of Time’s most influential 100 isn’t of the traditional variety: Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who is leading the charge to put top-notch original comedies and dramas on an
Netflix's dominance in the subscription video-on-demand market is growing ever more powerful, and so is the influence of its leadership. Time magazine named Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos one of its 100 most influential people in the world for its 2013 list. That influence will likely last for years as a new report also came out that predicted that the company will hit 49 million subscribers by 2019.The magazine ranked Sarandos in the top 20 “titans” of the year, a list that includes LeBron James, Sheryl Sandberg and Michael Kors. Other lists in the top 100 include artists, leaders, pioneers and icons.Netflix has been expanding into original content and the recent release of "House of Cards" can attest to how powerful the company is becoming in that realm. The SVOD service just released horror series "Hemlock Grove" over the weekend and will release the highly-anticipated reboot of "Arrested Development" in May.As CCO, Sarandos has a great deal of nfluence over what product will be produced for Netflix consumers. And the interest in the company'sstreaming service is growing. According to a new report by Trefis Equity Research, Netflix is expected to add 13.7 million domestic streaming subscribers by 2019, while losing 3.3 million disc subscriptions. It expects Netflix to add up to 1.2 million domestic streaming subscriptions when Netflix reports its first-quarter results April 22.“With Canada and Europe being developed markets, Netflix is positioned well to capture market share in these regions,” the Trefis report said. “The broadband penetration is high, and average broadband speeds are good enough to foster growth in streaming services.”
How Netflix could change TV as you see it
What a difference three months makes.Netflix wants to become HBO “faster than HBO can become Netflix,” in the words of Netflix executives — and the result could change TV as you see it.Of course, Netflix hasn’t changed the way we watch television just yet, and it might not.Rarely, though, has TV’s business model looked as if it’s resting on a house of cards than when Netflix made every episode of the Kevin Spacey political thriller House of Cards available all at once, every episode available on demand, earlier this year. This week, Netflix did it again, with the filmed-in-Toronto, Twin Peaks-themed gothic mystery Hemlock Grove., adapted by novelist Brian McGreevy and feature filmmaker Eli Roth from McGreevy’s novel of the same name, tells the story of the brutal murder of a 17-year-old girl in a rustic, rusting Pennsylvania steel town. The town’s residents are an odd collection of misfits and eccentrics, each and every one of them with a seeming motive, means and opportunity. House of Cards, Hemlock Grove and the soon-to-be-released fourth and final season of the cult comedy Arrested Development are just individual shows, of course. Some are bound to be more popular with Netflix subscribers than others.They are bit players in a larger game, though, in which Netflix wants to change the very rules by which the game is played. By making every episode of a series available at once, without commercial interruption, Netflix is gambling that an online streaming service can compete with and possibly even surpass premium cable channels like HBO, Showtime, AMC and FX. It’s the latest move in an ever-changing landscape, where technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and hardly any of the old rules apply. And Netflix’s timing couldn’t be more apt. Media analysts, TV historians and culture watchers have hailed this as a second golden age, not for film but television drama, where adult-oriented, adult-driven dramas like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, The Killing, Justified, Dexter, The Walking Dead, The Americans, Southland and numerous other dramas are redefining the small screen, and reshaping the popular perception of television as a destination for quality storytelling entertainment for adults. Appointment television has never been so competitive. Or intense.The old idea that the small screen is where movie stars go when they’re no longer big enough for the big screen is now just that: Old. The Netflix equation is new, though, even in a TV landscape where AMC, FX and HBO are as familiar to discerning viewers as original networks ABC, NBC, CBC and CTV. Commercials are still the lifeblood of the broadcast TV industry. Even award-winning dramas like Mad Men and Breaking Bad are financed in part by commercial advertising. Increasingly, though, online streaming services like Netflix are looking to the HBO model, where quality dramas like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire air commercial-free, in their original form. The difference is that, by making every episode available at once, streaming services like Netflix eliminate the need for viewers to make an appointment each week to watch, and then wait for the next episode the following week. Eliminating the wait is a potential game-changing play. Netflix may already be tasting the early fruits of its labour. Shares jumped nearly 25 per cent in post-market trading earlier this week, far exceeding industry forecasts, according to the industry trade magazine Deadline Hollywood.More tellingly, perhaps, Netflix saw its subscriber base end the quarter with 29 million U.S. subscribers, up by two million from the end of last year. February’s debut of House of Cards is the reason, many analysts say. Earlier this week, Netflix reported that preliminary audience sampling of Hemlock Grove has been even higher than that for House of Cards. Netflix’s success — a second season of House of Cards is already on the books — won’t hasten the collapse of the broadcast networks, of course, even though they have struggled to find audiences for ambitious, costly-to-make dramas like Zero Hour, 666 Park Avenue and Last Resort — all cancelled. It may hasten the time, though, when the broadcast networks rely exclusively on reality TV, sports, talent competitions, sitcoms, newsmagazines and live events like the Oscars and Juno Awards. Hemlock Grove will never appeal to a mass audience, nor was it intended to. As a series it is by turns eerie, mysterious, brooding, terrifying and graphic. With its eclectic ensemble of players — Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgård, Dougray Scott and Calgary native Landon Liboiron, among others — it’s unlike anything else in its genre, certainly unlike anything on the mainstream, conventional broadcast networks, where dramas like The Following and Hannibal are considered cutting edge.Netflix wants to be a game changer, but it doesn’t want to destroy the game in the process. Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos insisted he has come to praise television, not bury it.“I was raised in front of a TV set, for better or worse,” Sarandos said, earlier this year in Los Angeles. “I grew up on the great television of the ’70s and ’80s. All in the Family was pretty much my family; the stories were about my family.“I really do think that TV matters. TV matters in our lives. It defines and shapes who we are. It’s with that appreciation for TV and its rich history that we’re leading what we believe is the next wave of change in the media. Not to destroy it, but quite the opposite. We’re trying to help TV evolve for the present generation and for generations to come.”Sarandos insisted that Netflix has become an important cog in the entertainment machine. “Our licensing dollars have become the lifeblood of many of the best series on television,” he said. “Award-winning shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad are finding larger audiences than they ever would have on television alone. As these shows grow and mature on TV, they are seeing phenomenal audience growth, all over the world, as audiences discover these shows through previous seasons on Netflix. “We’re programming an increasingly global channel. Yes, we’re delivered differently, but we’re still accessed with a remote control and mostly watched on a TV. We program for many different countries and many different tastes, but our technology is all about creating a specific viewing experience for each and every one of our subscribers.” This is a golden age for television, Sarandos insisted. TV has replaced feature films as elite entertainment, because players like Netflix, FX, HBO and AMC have raised the stakes on what defines quality drama.It’s a new arms race, but this one will be fought in your living room.
Volunteer your remarketable gifts and become more marketable!
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By Jean Robb
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Email me your news. I have included in each story all the information I received and the direct contacts to make it really easy for you to get your foot in the door. “Network, Network, Network” See how you can use that experience to build your resume. Most of all how did you feel about helping others today.
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Jean Robb is a real estate agent in the Dallas – Fort Worth area who is committed to promoting the importance of volunteering for your community.We have the infrastructure in place with the best real estate team in North Texas, and the process for you and I, together can “give back” to those in need without costing you an extra dime. It’s a win/win for both of us. When you contact me, just mention this page and I'll donate 5% of my commission to any non-profit you want to help!
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