Home Entertainment Netflix’s Ted Sarandos talks about the impact of Covid-19 on the streaming giant, its employees, and its subscribers

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos talks about the impact of Covid-19 on the streaming giant, its employees, and its subscribers

4 min read

I always like to look for a silver lining when things get tough, and one of the best things about Covid-19 pandemic is that when I’m asked what I’ll be doing over the weekend I can say I’m doing the socially conscious thing and self-isolating, instead of the usual “nothing” and then crying on the inside. I never said it was a broad silver lining.

Remember: keep your distance, wash your hands properly and frequently, don’t drive around for non-essentials, and give non-smokers who cough a dirty look and then follow step one.

Anyway, due to many businesses across the globe either restricting the amount of people physically at work by encouraging employees to work from home or even shutting down entirely (and hopefully temporarily), people find themselves in desperate need of entertainment. One of the main forms of said entertainment is TV, and one of the main purveyors of said TV is Netflix – so much so that the EU have asked Netflix and other streaming service to reduce the amount of bandwidth they consume as a preventative measure.

Nearly all movie and TV productions across the world have shut down in response to the pandemic, and Netflix is no exception in that regard. This has obviously caused a massive disruption to their production schedule, as Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos told CNN (via THR) yesterday:

“It’s been a massive disruption. Every one of our productions around the world are shut down. I believe that’s unprecedented in history. And we have a lot of folks who have found themselves suddenly and without notice to be out of work.”

They are however, unlike many businesses, providing some compensation to those affected by the shutdown:

“When we were forced to shut down those productions, the first thing we did is make sure that everybody on those sets, everybody on those crews knew that they were being paid for the next two weeks, as if they were there. We sent all of our employees at home. So, we have all of our employees at home, even in roles that are not necessarily conducive to doing that. So, we’re trying to keep things ‘business as usual’ as we can, in a time of great uncertainty for some people. We hope this brings them some economic comfort, if not emotional comfort.”

However it’s not something that subscribers will notice in the short term:

“We work pretty far ahead. You know, we deliver all of our shows with all episodes at once. So, we’re pretty far ahead. So we don’t see any disruption in our output over the next few months. You know, maybe later in the year, if this progresses long, you’ll start feeling some of that as the physical production is not operating.”

In other good news, and in addition to the aforementioned two weeks compensation, Sarandos also announced on Friday that Netflix are setting up a $100 million relief fund for those in the industry affected by the shutdown, stating in a post on the company blog (which you can read in full here):

The Covid-19 crisis is devastating for many industries, including the creative community. Almost all television and film production has now ceased globally – leaving hundreds of thousands of crew and cast without jobs. These include electricians, carpenters, drivers, hair and makeup artists and more, many of whom are paid hourly wages and work on a project-to-project basis.

This community has supported Netflix through the good times, and we want to help them through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide. So we’ve created a $100 million fund to help with hardship in the creative community.

Most of the fund will go towards support for the hardest hit workers on our own productions around the world. We’re in the process of working out exactly what this means, production by production. This is in addition to the two weeks pay we’ve already committed to the crew and cast on productions we were forced to suspend last week.

Beyond helping workers on our own productions, we also want to support the broader film and television industry. So $15 million of the fund will go to third parties and non-profits providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast in the countries where we have a large production base.

Let’s hope more of the giant entertainment corporations, who rely so heavily on all those people he was just talking about, follow suit.

Last Updated: March 23, 2020

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