Many Netflix users and viewers were puzzled when the company gleefully announced a deal with Barack Obama and his wife to produce content for the popular streaming service. Generally, politically-designed content has not fared well on Netflix, and it seemed strange that the pair, who have no history in film, would receive such a deal.
Now, after threats of a boycott from users, the network is promising that the Obama-produced content will not be political in any way. Many are skeptical about the veracity of this claim, to say the least. To the skeptics, the streaming services’ executives said “um…wait” for the content to come out. Surely, they’re kidding with this claim of ‘non-political’ content.
According to Sarandos, Netflix is not “the Obama network,” and he expected there will be “no political slant to the programming.”
During the interview, Auletta asked what he would say about republicans who have pointed out Netflix seems to be lurching left, with shows like ‘Dear White People’ and other leftist propaganda pieces, and with the appointment of former senior Obama advisor Susan Rice to its board.
In a terse response, Sarandos said “wait for the programming.”
He said they made a deal for entertainment programming, such as scripted films and television shows, as well as ‘unscripted lifestyle content’ and maybe even a docu-series.
He also said that the reason he snatched up the chance to have the Obamas on Netflix was that they were forming the production company as they were leaving the White House, and he thought that they would be “great” at producing content.
Sarandos also said that he wasn’t going to argue that there wasn’t a left-leaning bias in the ‘creative’ community, but that the shows greenlit by Netflix didn’t represent his political views, or those of Netflix Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings.
The executive mentioned that he would not be releasing any viewership metric data concerning the Obama’s shows or other shows made by left-leaning individuals, such as ‘Dear White People,’ because he simply doesn’t have to.
Netflix, after all, does not make any money from advertising (at least not from selling advertisement time during shows), so they don’t have to track that kind of information.
According to him, the service attains, produces, and acquires content for more than 2,000 ‘taste clusters’ of people who regularly use the service and pay its monthly fees.
That seems to be his explanation for why the service produces content that many Americans don’t care for, or that seems politically charged or outright propagandistic in nature.
Sarandos also took the time to brag about his accomplishments, saying that he put 33 films in theaters last year. What he didn’t mention was that most of these films were low-budget, and generated low returns, or that the vast majority of them saw extremely limited release in theaters.
For example, Netflix released the film ‘Beasts of No Nation,’ a film about the life of a child soldier in an African conflict, in theaters back in 2015. The film performed poorly.
However, by releasing these indie films to theaters, Netflix ensured that their films were eligible for a number of awards, such as the Oscars and Golden Globes. In fact, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ did find itself nominated for, and even the recipient of, a number of awards.
The Netflix Exec said he hopes to release as many as 80 films to theaters in 2019, ranging from low-cost “sub-indie” pictures to $100 million “blockbusters.”
Of course, the best-performing film of the summer, ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ cost nearly quadruple that in production alone, to say nothing of advertising costs.
Even the critically-acclaimed ‘Deadpool 2’ cost $110 million in production budget alone.
For those who have used Netflix, their political bias and desire to pander to social justice audiences has been transparent for years.
It’s obvious every time they pay for another boring Amy Schumer ‘comedy’ special that performs dreadfully.
It’s obvious every time they broadcast another social justice show to lecture viewers about Flint, Michigan, or other ‘minority’ issues.
It seems fair to say that the likelihood that content produced by the Obamas won’t be politically-charged (and racially-charged) is about equal to the probability that if you liked your doctor, you could keep him.
All that’s left now is to see how users respond to the obvious political bias shown by an executive whose wife, Nicole Avant, was selected by Barack Obama to be the American Ambassador to the Bahamas, a cushy gig usually awarded to a top donor or bundler.
Perhaps an alternate boycott would be to continue to use Netflix, but ‘thumbs down’ the Obama content, deflating its numbers and showing that it is not reaching the majority of the service’s American audience. However, if enough people cancel subscriptions, the company will get the message.