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Sarandos: Keep TV Everywhere and SVOD Separate

30 May, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ted Sarandos

Netflix chief content officer said May 26 launch of ‘Arrested Development’ revival has met all expectations, including critical

Rollout of TV Everywhere platforms allowing authenticated viewers to catch up on TV shows should remain a separate business from subscription video-on-demand, said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Speaking May 30 at Nomura Global Media & Telecom Summit in New York, Sarandos said TV Everywhere is a legitimate platform for programs missed during their initial broadcast. At the same time, Sarandos said that business niche shouldn’t impede upon the SVOD market, which he said is willing to a pay a premium for the same content.

“Catch-up television is good for the industry. It’s good for the TV industry. It’s good for us because it strengthens the brands of content. But it should be only catch-up television,” Sarandos said.

TV Everywhere supporters, which include multichannel video program distributors such as cable, satellite and telecommunications, in addition to media companies, argue the platform keeps traditional TV distribution relevant in an age of time-shifting and competing alternative distribution channels such as Netflix.

Sarandos agrees, saying catch-up TV is very common internationally compared with the United States. But he says TV Everywhere providers should pay for the rights to repurpose content similar to what SVOD does.

“Once it gets into full-season stacking of a show, that’s a SVOD right,” he said. “And that’s a separately monetizable right that we pay a lot of money for. So if the MVPDs want … to outbid us for the right, we’re perfectly happy to get into those bidding wars.”

Sarandos said Netflix now approaches output deals with an eye on mandating that TV Everywhere remains a catch-up platform for a select number of episodes, and nothing more.

“But the truth of it is I think the MVPDs would rather muscle [the right] out of the general [TV] operators, and it’s going to be increasingly difficult to defend that economically when we’re willing to pay a lot of money for that right,” he said.

The executive said the May 26 revival launch of “Arrested Development” with a new fourth season has met expectations (reaching targeted audience) thus far, which he said defy conventional wisdom. Sarandos said that despite the “sexy idea” around bringing canceled TV shows back to life on SVOD, it’s a “pretty rare bird” that actually succeeds a second time around.

He cited his recent comments made about Joss Whedon’s efforts to bring back space Western “Firefly” — which was cancelled after one season in 2002 — and why Netflix passed on the idea.

“About 6 million people watched 'Firefly' when it was on television. And a few million people still love to talk about it, blog about it, write about it, but it’s fewer than the 6 million people who watched it, even when you take the DVD and all of that,” Sarandos said.

At the same time, he said the audience for “Arrested Development” grew after it was taken off the air in 2006 by Fox. The CCO said a pre-streaming promotional tour for the new fourth season saw lines two or three blocks long in Manhattan, London and other cities.

“It was all 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids who have discovered the show on Netflix,” Sarandos said. “So, it’s a whole new audience for the show that is not the same for a lot of these other TV cults that have gone away.”


About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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