Netflix doesn’t plan on releasing metrics anytime soon, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told an annual gathering of programming execs in Beverly Hills on Thursday.
“We don’t plan on releasing ratings,” Sarandos told the annual programmer’s luncheon hosted by the Hollywood Radio and Television Society. “I really believe that our ratings success will be spun in a negative way to our [content] suppliers.”
Sarandos said he saw no benefit in showing that Netflix is beating this network or that network.
“I can’t get any win out of that,” he said, while stressing that Netflix isn’t competing against the broadcast and cable outlets.
He also said he didn’t want to put pressure on shows to perform and make certain numbers so they would be perceived as a hit or flop. “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” are both perceived as hits by the wider culture, he pointed out, without having any ratings data to support that.
Srandos shared the stage at the Beverly Hilton with Showtime’s President of Entertainment David Nevins, NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke, and NBCU Cable Entertainment President Jeff Wachtel.
Much of the discussion centered around the ongoing battles over stacking rights and what binge viewing means for the industry. And yes, the Great Pilot Debate also reared its head once again.
Salke lamented the madhouse schedule and pressures of pilot season, and networks and shows going after the same talent, directors and writers.
“We’ve all acknowledged that pilot season makes no sense and is crazy. We’re trying to figure out how to do things year-round,” Salke said. “I think it does bring down the quality a bit, yes,”
Nevins threw a bit of cold water on Netflix’s all-at-once release model, since viewers can binge in a day and then have to wait an entire year to find out what happens next.
“I believe in the tantric form of television,” Nevins said, to loud guffaws from the audience. “Slow, steady, and you don’t want to give them too much, too soon.”
When moderator Cynthia Littleton from Variety brought up the question of stacking rights, Nevins pointed out that Showtime long ago decided that while one of their shows were on the air, they would keep all the rights to themselves.
NBCU’s Wachtel agreed and said that is where their line is drawn now.
But Sarandos conceded that while five-episode stacking provides an important catch-up opportunity in the linear broadcast world, once you enter into full-season stacking, that becomes SVOD and then Netflix wouldn’t pay as much for the show.
Brief Take: At an event that used to be a Broadcast President’s Luncheon, Sarandos and Netflix dominated the conversation, further underscoring just who is holding the ball these days as they run around the field.