Inside Netflix’s shocking TV chief shake-up

On Wednesday, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos gathered staff for a virtual town hall to explain the rationale behind the TV executive shake-up, which passed through Hollywood the evening before. He decided to promote Bella Bajaria and say goodbye to global television and said goodbye to his longtime right-hander Cindy Holland, he told staff, as he wanted to streamline the reporting process within the TV group. It was something that had been on his mind since he played his big role in the streaming giant earlier this summer.

Netflix’s rank-and-file – as well as a group of senior leaders whom Sarandos met before at Town Hall – were devastated and shocked by the sudden change in leadership. Holland, after all, had worked with Sarandos at Netflix for nearly 20 years and many considered his apparent choice to take on his boss as chief content officer for a day. But as Sarandos sees the future of Netflix, it’s Bajaria, a veteran Hollywood executive who has made a series of important programming decisions since joining Netflix less than four years ago, about whom he believes Is ultimately the right woman for the job.

The restructuring, sources say, was a result of Sarandos’ desire to implement a clear hierarchy in the streamer, as well as focus on global expansion. With room for only one execution at the top – Bajaria – Holland had no job because many sources believe she was highly unlikely to shift and report to Bajaria. (Although sources say that it was never presented as an option.) Rumors of tension between Bajaria and Holland have remained for some time, even though Bajaria, upon arrival, cleverly pursued a situation. But where he reported directly to Sarandos, like Holland.

Sources say that the relationship between Bajaria and Holland was tense from the beginning. The two first met when Bajaria’s Universal TV came out. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt To Netflix after passing NBC on the ABC Kemper comedy. After pushing Bajaria to Universal TV for failing to supply enough content for the broadcast network, Holland came out with a job offer. But Bajaria, sources say, had already forced his relationship with Sarandos. “I don’t think Ted set up the best atmosphere,” a former Netflix insider said of the silent structure of the time. “That’s why when they are different paths to ‘yes.” (Case in point: Holland passed Greedy CBS TV Studios discontinued the pilot developed for The CW. Bajaria picked it up on Netflix and banned it in its first season by reinventing the critically avenging comedy.)

Holland is a veteran of Netflix’s culture, and as a former insider notes, “would call Ted out on his writ.” And he would encourage his team to voice concerns if they disagreed with a programming move. “Cindy represents a world where you tell Reid [Hastings] And Ted when you disagree. But nobody really likes it; A former Netflix employee says he did not tell when people didn’t like him.

(Netflix declined to comment.)

The London-born Bajaria, a 20-year-old veteran of traditional studio systems who joined Netflix in 2016, quickly made his way through the ranks and built his skills in development areas for streamers, film licensing with American studios and TV Launched co-production from the US network. In March 2019, local language programming became another top priority, arguing for a new role in Netflix overseeing scripted and unscripted series in almost all international markets. He has amassed an impressive track record in significant acquisitions over the last four years (You all american) And global content (The Witcher, Money Heist). Those skills combine well with his decades of relationships with top domestic writers and producers.

This recent international experience is, as many note, valuable especially for Netflix as it looks into the next phase of development. In the US and Canada, where the company has been operating for years, growth has slowed as it nears market saturation with around 73 million paid members. (Domestic sub-growth has received an uptick this year due to the ongoing epidemic.) But global markets present an opportunity for significant customer gains, especially ahead of competitors such as Netflix Disney, WarnerMedia and NBCSuniversal Sets the distance, all of which are in different. Stages of expanding their own streaming platforms to global audiences. During the first two quarters of this year, the Europe, Middle East and Africa region contributed the most new customers with a net addition of 9.7 million.

Bajaria, on top of which grew rapidly, and was growing steadily on behalf of NBCUniversal to oversee the group’s entertainment portfolio, now oversees the original series of English and vernacular, scripted and unscripted series and limited series.

“Cindy had no global experience,” another former Netflix exec with knowledge of the streamer’s programming performance. “The real power of Netflix is ​​not the stuff we talk about [think Stranger Things]; its The Witcher, Money Heist, Dark And all international goods – not making much Ozark. And [Bela] Smart Acquisition and Javelin-Unmarked were also unpublished. ”

Although the move to Holland is shocking in a city where executives are known to play senior roles, until they welcome it, it is in line with Netflix culture. The company, which started in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, is known to let underachievers and regularly relies on a practice known as the Keeper Test to assess whether employees Whether or not he should stay in the company. It has led to some high-profile departures over the years, including past CFO David Wells and former head of HR Patty McCord, who eventually helped destroy the environment.

The shake-up comes as co-CEO Reid Hastings has been on the media circuit this week to promote his new book, Rule no rules: Netflix and culture refinancingIn which he discusses the length of philosophy around this clinical approach. In an interview with Three hearted Before the news about Holland came, Hastings made it clear that even senior executives of the company should not be comfortable. “You have to earn your job every year at Netflix,” he said, expanding his employee base like a championship-winning professional sports team.

Holland, for his part, helped convert Netflix from DVD-by-mail roots to Hollywood’s most Emmy-nominated outlet. She oversees the company’s transition from licensed content to scripted originals, and as head of the English-language series, including hits House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Stranger Things, Moving of Hill House And When they see us. Still a priority for Netflix, the rise of Bajaria reflects the growing value of global origin and enhanced content. Hollande oversaw the company’s push into the overall deal business with a string of landscape-shifting patches for top audiences including Ryan Murphy ($ 300 million), game of Thrones Creators David Benioff and DB Weiss ($ 250 million), Shonda Rhimes ($ 100 million) and Kenya Barris ($ 80 million), others.

“Reindeer stops with Ted, but I’m sure he’ll try to blame Cindy,” says the one-man talent spender with Netflix. Holland also distributed a series of memoirs, including price, per source The dark crystal (One “expensive disappointment,” per linked to one source).

While Netflix came to the city with the promise of a new playbook, Sarandos is increasingly shaping the Dreamer as a traditional Hollywood group. In addition to advancing Bajaria for a role with global film major Scott Stuber, Sarandos this week promoted VP content acquisition Amy Reinhardt to head studio operations. She will now oversee physical production, IP management and form a casting team at Streamer as Sarandos, whom she reports, simplifies her executive rank and creates more traditional Hollywood roles at the company. Reinhard joined Netflix in the content acquisition group in late 2016. She arrived at Paramount Pictures after spending over a decade where she was the chair of worldwide TV licensing and distribution.