Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos Is Prepared for a Potential Writer’s Strike With a Long-Running Slate

Netflix is also ending its long-running DVD rental service, with the final discs being shipped out on September 29.

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos Is Prepared for a Potential Writer’s Strike With a Long-Running Slate

Photo Credit: Richard Harbaugh/ AMPAS

Ted Sarandos at The 92nd Academy Awards red carpet

  • The writer’s strike could begin on May 1, halting Hollywood productions
  • Current Netflix DVD rental users can return discs until October 27
  • Netflix added 1.75 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2023

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos claims they are prepared ‘better than most' studios in case the writers' strike does go through, bringing several Hollywood productions to a halt. During its Q1 2023 earnings review, the executive noted how the streaming platform would fare if the work stoppage situation does become a reality, pointing at its large slate of upcoming movies and shows, which would keep disruptions to the minimum. For the uninitiated, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike, as a last resort if negotiations to make substantial changes to a writer's compensation for their work don't end favourably.

“We respect writers and we respect the WGA and we couldn't be here without them,” Sarandos said during the review meeting (via IndieWire). “But if there is one, we have a large base of upcoming shows and films from around the world, so we can probably serve our members better than most. We really don't want this to happen, but we have to make plans for the worst, so we do have a pretty robust slate of releases to take us into a long time.” The 2023 writer's strike would be Hollywood's first halt since 2007, which, at the time, left late-night comedians and actors with no jokes or lines to recite. The current contract between studios and writers ends on May 1, which would then lead to a strike if the two parties are unable to come to terms on a new deal that reverses the trend of declining writer's pay.

Nearly 98 percent of the members voted in favour of a strike, an overwhelmingly large amount which would drastically harm studios that never planned ahead of time. As per The Hollywood Reporter, rumours of a potential writer's strike have swirled around for months now, causing companies to stockpile scripts and greenlight renewals early. Netflix seems to be the only studio that could still thrive in these harsh conditions, given its penchant for planning projects far before releases. “One of the benefits of releasing our series all at once is that we work very far ahead of our release cycle,” Sarandos said during a 2020 Netflix earnings call, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Venkatesh and Rana Daggubati-led Rana Naidu has been renewed for a second season, after it trended at the no. 1 spot for most watched series in India for three straight weeks. “India is a big prize because it's an enormous population of entertainment-loving people, and you've just got to have the product that they love,” Sarandos said in the meeting.

Meanwhile, Netflix has also decided to retire its 25-year-long-running DVD rental service, which makes sense given the physical media business has fell short since digital streaming took off — even more so, during the pandemic. The company will ship out its last discs on September 29, with the official blog post remarking that over 5.2 billion DVDs have been shipped to date. It will accept DVD returns until October 27. A report suggested that in 2022, Netflix earned $145.69 million (about Rs. 1,196 crore), down by 20 percent from the year prior.

Earlier this week, analysts predicted that Netflix would add 2–3 million subscribers during its first quarter of 2023. However, the updated numbers fell a little short, amounting to 1.75 million new memberships, marking the first quarter for which the streamer did not provide internal estimates, per IndieWire. The company also delayed its plans to crack down on password sharing in the US until the second quarter.

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