As VP of international series for Netflix, Erik Barmack has been using the streaming giant’s multi-billion content budget to
seed its library with original homegrown content for many of the 130 territories it now serves, including Brazil (“3%”) France (“Marseille”), Germany (“Dark”), Mexico (“Club de Cuevos,” “Las Layendas” (“The Legends”), South Korea (“Okja”) and Spain, as well as domestic independent films.
VideoInk: We’ve been asking our dealmakers what they think is the most important quality for a deal maker to embody. Your thoughts?
Erik Barmack: Passion and curiosity are the two characteristics at the top of my list. In a dynamic environment, you need both qualities to problem solve.
VI: Over the arc of your time at Netflix, the business has undergone significant expansion. Has anyone been a reference point for you or shaped your career?
EB: Ted, chief content officer at Netflix, has been influential in pushing conventions and following my passion. I also appreciate many of my English teachers from college, who taught me to love the craft of storytelling.
VI: What is inspiring you right now?
EB: The vast creativity happening to story-lines for on-demand shows in general. The structure, geography and timing of the distribution of shows are changing dramatically.
VI: Any deals you’ve watched from afar and thought “Damn, I wish I’d done that deal?”
EB: All the deal-making around eSports — creating a new industry in what seems like a very short period of time — was incredible to watch. Finding live audiences for gamers has been pretty stunning.
VideoInk: And for you, what’s been the most impactful deal you’ve done?
EB: Getting Club de Cuervos, Netflix’s first foreign-language original series, off the ground, and seeing that show find a devoted audience in Mexico and throughout the world.
VI: Any big misconceptions you’ve noticed about the video business?
EB: That negotiations are zero sum games, and that certain territories will be winner take all. As video content evolves, I believe that there will be people subscribing to multiple packages if the content is great.
VI: I’m sure that among other things impacts how you do deals. Anything else you think is impacting dealmaking?
EB: The broad comprehension of how to navigate global rights for individual shows.
VI: Obviously, Netflix is a subscription model, but looking at the state of the industry do you think any of the other models are viable?
EB: I’m less focused on business models, per se, and more focused on what content can reach global audiences, and what local/regional shows can be globally distributed. Through that prism, there will be many models that will work (if the content is great).