Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos was honored as the Cannes Lions 2022 Entertainment Person of the Year award. He took the main stage on June 23 in Netflix’s festival debut. He talked about questions about Netflix’s stock decline and more-is-more content approach while carefully sidestepping ad deal rumors and platform competitors.
Sarandos brushed off the specifics on any rumored ad deals and said that Netflix was talking to all potential ad partners. However, he did add that an ideal ad partner had to make it easy for Netflix to enter the ad market.
He talked about how Netflix’s initial ad integration is not what he envisaged for the company and that the platform would look at ad operations internally to give it more control. Ultimately, Netflix wants to offer creative ad products ‘better than TV’. He referenced his past life in merchandising for the physical media company West Coast Video, specifically the original release for Top Gun.
“If you really love ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel, Disney’s probably the service for you. Our key is, can we have the engagement with consumers such that they will complement it with other subscriptions" - Ted Sarandos co-CEO Netflix
Besides the ad deals, Sarandos talked about content and how Netflix looks at it. According to him, Netflix’s advantage is in not just providing content for one person but every subscriber. “If you really love ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel, Disney’s probably the service for you. Our key is, can we have the engagement with consumers such that they will complement it with other subscriptions,,” he said.
“People's tastes are so diverse,” he said. “So, every time people say, ‘That's a lot of content,’ I say, ‘It's not all for you.’ And we’re really trying to make your favorite show, my favorite show—they probably don't line up. We do well at that, and then the UI is used to kind of personalize so I find my favorite show. That scales infinitely.”
He dispelled the rumor that Netflix was trying to buy out Roku to cover device integration and data capabilities. He stated that Netflix is already ubiquitously distributed on internet-enabled devices and that “we would be better off getting Netflix embedded in every device than we will be competing in the device world.”
He discussed Netflix’s support for Dave Chappelle. “We're programming to people with a real variety of tastes and sensibilities and how they were brought up and what they think is offensive, or what they think is damaging to themselves, or their children,” he said. “So the variety of how you can plan the same thing for everybody—it's an impossible feat.”
Sarandos said that Netflix’s queer content receives the same support. “I do think supporting expression is really important,” Sarandos said. “I think it's almost impossible for me to censor Dave in the U.S. and then I've got people from all over the world who are super offended by our LGBTQ+ content—they want to take it down and they think it's super harmful; they think it's destroying their society—And not only do we fight for it, we fight it all the way to the Supreme Court and have never take it down anywhere in the world.”