With a proven track record for original shows, Netflix says it wants to output as many as 20 original TV series annually within the next five years. That means Netflix subs can expect one new show—or a new season of a show—about every 2.5 weeks. Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said he wants subscribers to get into a “regular drumbeat” for programming— that’s in addition to the movies and shows already being added to the service each month.
At the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference earlier this week, Sarandos spoke about the TV industry at large, lambasting the reliance of TV networks on ratings to gauge the success or failure of shows. Sarandos says this reliance smothers creativity, and doesn’t give shows a chance at success, especially if they’re in the “wrong slot at the wrong time.”
A lot of really, really good shows have been canceled over the past few years—some cult hits, some not—long before they deserved to be. I can recall shows like Trophy Wife and Selfie (I know, I know) being canceled before ever really having a chance to find a proper audience. Both are hilarious, charming and fun, but since ratings were poor, they were canceled despite having a solid cast and great writing.
Sarandos only needs to point to Freaks & Geeks as one of the best examples of the reliance on ratings. Universally acclaimed, the show didn’t really have a major audience at the time, but it found a huge following in the ensuing years. (If you haven’t seen the show, it features stars like Seth Rogen, James Franco, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps, and more; that’s an ensemble cast, no question.)
Netflix currently has nine original shows in development, including Marco Polo and House of Cards, which is set to return early next year. Sarandos hopes to one day evolve Netflix into the “largest producer of original content in the world.” Netflix’s ambitions are certainly lofty—surely it’s biting off more than it can chew, right? No so—Sarandos says the service’s approach is calculated, and doesn’t expect every series to hit the Emmy heights of something like House of Cards. Instead, it wants to find niche audiences
As an example, Sarandos revealed that a show like Lillyhammer receives most of its viewership from Norway (about 65-percent), whereas numbers here in the U.S. aren’t quite as high. Netflix is currently in over 50 countries, and hopes to be in many more over the coming years, giving the service’s original TV the best chance of success.
“People like watching all episodes in one sitting… instead of waiting a whole season to watch them on cable,” Sarandos said.