Ted Sarandos Says Netflix Will Roll Out ‘About 20’ Unscripted Series in 2017

Streaming service’s top programmer talks content at UBS conference

Ted Sarandos Netflix
attends the Premiere of Netflix's "Stranger Things" at Mack Sennett Studios on July 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Netflix is diving into reality TV in a big way, according to Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.

Speaking at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference, Sarandos said that the streaming provider will offer “about 20” unscripted series in 2017, as it moves closer to its goal of 1,000 annual hours of original content production.

For example, Netflix is making a big bet on “Ultimate Beastmaster,” a previously announced competition series executive produced by Sylvester Stallone. The show will feature simultaneous production around the world, meaning that in South Korea viewers will see local hosts and athletes. “Beastmaster,” Sarandos said, will feature “global scale and production.”

Sarandos said that type of production is necessary for Netflix to stand out in the crowded reality genre. He added that Netflix already produces original content in 12 countries around the world.

“Unscripted television is a very interesting business,” Sarandos said. “The content itself seems to be largely interchangeable. Meaning, if you want to see a show about hoarding, there are three different shows about hoarding.” Given that it’s difficult for the concepts themselves to stand out, he added, Netflix can add value in the scale of the production.

Sarandos said that Netflix’s studio division had not yet reached the point of “diminishing returns” in its aggressive push to create more original programming to lure more subscribers.

He also turned aside a question about whether Netflix might release detailed viewership statistics. “Not at this point,” Sarandos replied. The service has been heavily criticized by many industry veterans for its lack of detailed audience measurement, a la the Nielsen ratings for TV.

But Sarandos remains bullish on the growth prospects for Netflix going forward.

“I feel like we’re in the early innings of this business: :Internet television,” he said.