Netflix Boss on ‘The Get Down,’ ‘Sense8’ Cancellations: ‘We Couldn’t Support Those Economics’

“If you put all your money into something that a very few people are watching, eventually you’ll have nothing for people to watch,” Ted Sarandos says

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos defended the streaming platform’s recent decisions to cancel two high profile shows, “The Get Down” and “Sense8.”

“We couldn’t support those economics,” the executive said onstage during a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld at the Produced By Conference Saturday. “If you put all your money into something that a very few people are watching, eventually you’ll have nothing for people to watch.”

Of “The Get Down,” Sarandos said, “We mounted a big, huge Baz Luhrmann production. It took years to make. Creatively, I couldn’t be any more proud of the show, and I think people really fell in love with it. Fresh new faces, an under-told story, a beautiful production. But relative to what it cost to make, we couldn’t put together enough audience to support those economics.”

He spoke similarly of “Sense8,” citing expensive costs for the cast to travel across the world to film in eight different cities simultaneously.

“It was incredibly ambitious,” he praised the sci-fi series from the Wachowskis. “It broke all kinds of new ground, being a show rooted in concepts of gender and identity… They made a beautiful show. We did two seasons of it and a movie in between. Similarly, the audience was very passionate but just not large enough to support the economics of something that big, even in our platform.”

Still, Sarandos defended his company’s decision to never release ratings or viewership info, saying it would have a negative impact on shows and creators.

“When [a hit] happens, you know,” Sarandos said, citing the recent “13 Reasons Why” buzz. “It would start an arms race where, this show’s a hit because this many people watched it, this show’s not because of these numbers, and that’s really only relative to how much money you put into it.”