Ted Sarandos is the content chief at Netflix, the largest and most influential streaming TV platform worldwide. He spoke with Suhani Singh about the company’s strategy in India, where its subscriber numbers are lagging behind Amazon Prime and Hotstar.
Q. India is one of the only six countries where Netflix has set up an office. Does that make it special?
I think we should have done it sooner. India is a very dynamic, creative environment and a massive market. So the closer we can be to it, the better it is. It’s about where the opportunity is and what needs local expertise.
Q. Are you satisfied with the flow of Indian originals in 2018?
I am thrilled. We are moving as fast as we possibly can with the chief regulator being quality. It’s the same with our licensed catalogue, which has grown two times. Sacred Games was radically different than what’s otherwise available and
simultaneously, it also respected and reflected local taste and culture.
Q. Have these shows translated into a rise in subscribers?
Yes, definitely. The shows have become great ambassadors for the platform. We have a young adult show Selection Day coming up in December. We are also developing Baahubali, Bard of Blood, Leila and Midnight’s Children.
Q. But you are still lagging behind Amazon and Hotstar.
With Amazon they want deliveries and get some stuff too, and with Hotstar they want sports. People who join Netflix want great shows and films and we aim to deliver on that. Our competition is what people do on screens. So it’s as much social media as Amazon and Hotstar.
Q. Last year, Netflix won its first documentary Oscar for Icarus.
Can you win in the feature film category in 2019?
For [director] Alfonso Cuaron, I hope. Roma is a beautiful accomplishment but also such a personal film. It would mean the world for Alfonso. The Oscars should be a reflection of the best film, not where you see it.