The Interview continues to have legs, and don’t bet against seeing it on Netflix one day. While Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos didn’t want to talk about the controversial film, feisty TCA critics broke him Wed morning. Sarandos praised the film as the most successful on-demand theatrical ever and said it’s “a great example of what happens when you give people distribution choices… it’s eye-opening for the industry.” He said that the holidays impinged on Netflix making a deal for the movie as “nobody was in the country” 2 days before Christmas. Later, in the scrum, Sarandos hedged when pushed about discussions being held for the film to be distributed on Netflix. “Every discussion about distribution of anything involves Netflix,” he said.
On other topics, Sarandos batted back critics’ questions about Netflix’s reluctance to reveal ratings. There is too much talk about “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” to think people aren’t watching, Sarandos said. Those 2 series also do well in China, he noted. In addition, “for us, as a global property, people watching at 3am are as important as people watching” in primetime, he said. “We’ll stay away” from ratings “as long as we can,” although a series is a success on Netflix “when people watch the show.” He said net subscriber growth is what the company tracks.
How do people watch series on Netflix? Few binge watch for 13 hours, he said, but “most will watch more than one hour.” Netflix has found people opt to view a few hours of a series in a sitting and finish the season over the next few nights before moving on to another show. This is unlike series on linear TV in which some episodes aren’t watched much, Sarandos said. It also breaks the pattern of pre-on-demand days, he said, in that viewers typically had a favorite “Monday night show” and a “Tuesday night show” etc. Netflix will churn out 320 hours of original programming this year and will be “opportunistic” in resurrecting series canceled by cable and broadcast networks, he said.
— Best Line at TCA day 1: Tina Fey on being able to push the boundaries on standards and practices on her upcoming Netflix series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Mar 6), “All of Season 2 will be shower sex scenes.”