Ted Sarandos Says Pandemic Helped Netflix ‘Develop a Muscle’ for Managing Strike-Impacted Slate

“We didn’t really have much interruption in our delivery to our members,” the co-CEO says

Ted Sarandos (Credit: Getty Images)

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the COVID-19 pandemic helped the streamer prepare for disruptions in programming slates during this summer’s Hollywood double strike.

“Not that COVID was good for anybody, but it did help us develop a muscle about how to manage the slate and manage delivery in an unpredictable time like the strike,” Sarandos said during Monday’s UBS Global TMT Conference. “We’ve always had a very deep slate, so we didn’t really have much interruption in our delivery to our members.”

The Netflix boss added that programming leaders were able to “shuffle” releases around a bit, while still being able to count on international programs that were unaffected by the labor dispute.

“This year, we’re looking forward to our scheduled return of things like new seasons of ‘Bridgerton,’ ‘Cobra Kai’ and ‘Emily in Paris,’” Sarandos said, adding that the streamer is “thrilled” to put the work stoppage behind them.

“I should also note that we’re mostly just thrilled that the strike is behind us and [we’re] getting back to what we do best and what our writers and actors do best, and all of our below-the-line folks, which is make great stories for the world,” he said. “I’m really excited about that.”

Lily Collins in "Emily in Paris" on Netflix

During the work stoppage, which shut down virtually every industry production when striking actors joined WGA members on the picket lines in mid-July, Sarandos dodged a question during the company’s second-quarter earnings call in July asking when Netflix’s production pipeline would feel the effects of the strikes.

By Netflix’s third quarter earnings call in October — just weeks before the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike — Sarandos said the studios were “totally committed” to resolving the actors’ strike.

“We want nothing more than to resolve this and for everyone to get back to work — that’s true of every member of the AMPTP,” he said. “We are incredibly and totally committed to ending the strike. The industry, our communities and the economy are all hurting. So we need to get a deal done that respects all sides as soon as we possibly can.”


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