Netflix Chief on Cuba Deal: ‘Now They Just Have to Get the Internet’

Ted Sarandos talks streaming to the island country and company’s new global outlook

Last Updated: February 10, 2015 @ 12:13 AM

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos spoke out Monday evening about the streaming service expanding into Cuba, a deal that was announced earlier in the day.

“Now they just have to get the Internet,” Sarandos said at a panel titled “The New Era of TV,” hosted on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, California, by Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Art.

Sarandos wasn’t joking. Watchdog group Freedom House estimated that only 15% of homes in Cuba had Internet access as of 2012. A Google study also revealed that the functional Internet in the island nation is the Western hemisphere’s slowest.

Content available in the region will align with its current offerings in the Caribbean, the Netflix announcement noted. Expanding into a country like Cuba, then, is more of a symbolic move.

“Our goal by the end of 2016 is that we want to be a completely global product,” Sarandos said, sitting beside fellow speakers, Steve Mosko (Sony Pictures Television) and Ed Carroll (AMC Networks).

“I’m organizing my entire organization as global buyers now, instead of regional buyers. We used to have teams of Latin American buyers and European buyers, Asian buyers,” he said.

“We’re more likely now to rank it by film and television over a global organization.”

As for what plays best on an international scale, Sarandos said the company’s original programming like “House of Cards” and “Marco Polo” are the ones that “travel most beautifully.”

Netlfix closed at $443.07 per share on Monday. Read the latest Netflix earnings report.