Ted Sarandos: Coronavirus Has Been ‘Massive Disruption’ for Netflix

Streaming CEO tells CNN that new shows will be coming for the next few months, but the production schedule has been completely shut down

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos says that all of the streaming service’s “productions around the world are shut down” because of the coronavirus pandemic, which he calls “a massive disruption.”

“It’s unprecedented in history,” Sarandos told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday.

Even as usage of their service has increased from millions of people worldwide staying home on lockdown, Netflix is still navigating the coronavirus crisis.

He noted that because Netflix plans “pretty far ahead” on developing new shows, the service’s release schedule is set for the next several months. He said that the challenge will come later in the year, as shows and films that were in production for release in late 2020 have been put on pause due to the ongoing pandemic.

In the meantime, Netflix is trying to continue any development that can still be done remotely, while supporting production workers who now find themselves in financial uncertainty. Sarandos said, for example, that writers for the adult animated show “Big Mouth” are holding remote table reads and “getting geared up for a time they can get back to work.” Netflix will pay two weeks’ wages to their production workers and also established a $100 million fund to support those in the entertainment industry hardest hit by the shutdown.

According to Wired, usage of Netflix has increased by as much as 75% in some areas of the U.S. since last month, as over 75 million Americans have received orders from state officials to stay in their homes to prevent spread of the disease. In Europe, streaming has increased so much that the European Union has requested that media companies lower their bandwidth, something that Netflix has agreed to do by lowering bandwidth by 25%.

“You can imagine, all viewing is up. It’s up on Netflix, on CNN on television in general,” Sarandos said. “The system has been very robust and can help out a lot of people. People certainly are watching a lot more Netflix. As Governor (Andrew) Cuomo said so beautifully, the best thing you can do is stay at home — we are trying hard to help.”