On the heels of the announcement that Netflix would stream the SAG Awards beginning in 2024, co-CEO Ted Sarandos spoke more about the streamer’s approach to live programming during Thursday’s Q4 earnings call.

He called it a “crawl, walk, run scenario, where we are really looking at our content that would benefit creatively for being live.” That could include a special results episode of a competition show, or a reunion episode of reality television, for example. Netflix is eyeing any opportunity “to engage audiences live,” Sarandos explained.

“And because we’ve got the shelf space, we can do hours of shoulder programming around the live event and all of those things that our members may enjoy,” he said. “So there’s nothing particularly novel about live television, as you know, but we are dabbling in it, starting with our Chris Rock live concert to try to create the excitement around live for those things that are uniquely more exciting to be live.”

Part of live programming also includes sports, which Netflix has yet to dip its toes into while other streamers like Prime Video and Peacock have taken the plunge. But before Netflix can follow suit, they’ve got to be able to make it profitable.

“Our position has been the same. We’re not anti-sports, we’re pro-profits. We’ve not been able to figure out how to deliver profits in renting big league sports in our subscription model,” he said. “Not to say that that won’t change. We’d be open to it, but that’s where it’s at today.”

Live programming is just one of several ways that Netflix has been expanding its content recently — alongside gaming, fitness, and even expanded genres of series and films — which Sarandos explained was an effort to soften the blow of other potentially less popular measures like a crackdown on password sharing and increase profitability for their newly launched ad tier.

“It’s the content that people must see, and that it’s on Netflix gives us the ability to do that,” he said.


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