Sarandos: No Netflix Ratings for Original Shows #TCA15

Pasadena, Calif. -- Netflix has no intentions of releasing viewing statistics for its original shows, which do not reflect the success or failure of its original programming, according to the OTT service’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Sarandos, speaking at Netflix’s Television Critics Association press tour presentation here Wednesday morning, said that unlike cable and broadcast networks, Netflix has no business reasons to be measured or release audience numbers. The streaming service doesn’t have to rely on ratings to generate advertising or secure carriage deals with cable distributors, so Sarandos said there’s no need to provide audience information to justify its success.

He added that the television industry’s heavy emphasis on ratings has hurt the overall creative process.

“For us, primetime viewing is no more valuable than 3 a.m. viewing – we want our subscribers to watch on their time table,” he said. “While other network track live +3 or live +7, it has no impact on our business whatsoever. We’re going to stay away from it as long as we can.”

On Netflix’s decision not to stream The Interview: Sarandos would not directly comment on Netflix’s decision not to distribute Sony’s controversial movie The Interview, but noted that the movie’s digital performance – Sony has reported that the movie has drawn $31 million in digital sales  – bodes well for the future of digitally distributed movie programming.

“It’s been a great  example of what can happen with a big budget movie if you give people distribution choices,” Sarandos said. “You can create a lot of revenue.”

On the resurrection of canceled shows: Sarandos said the company will look at shows “opportunistically” adding that its decision to bring back A&E’s recently cancelled drama Longmire was based on adding new viewers to Netflix. Later this year, Netflix will stream the fourth season of the western drama, which A&E cancelled late last year after three seasons. 

“The show had a very loyal audience base … it will work great on Netflix,” he said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.