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Netflix Is Playing WB, Disney, Paramount, and NBC/Universal Like a Damn Fiddle

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 20, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 20, 2023 |


It turns out that cracking down on password sharing has been a boon to Netflix (so brace yourself for the rest of the streamers to follow suit). In fact, in the second quarter, Netflix added almost 6 million new subscribers. Second quarter revenue came in at $8.19 billion. Compared to the $8.19 billion the company generates in a quarter, what the actors and writers are demanding is mere loose change found under the couch cushions. Netflix also reported an expected growth in free cash flow this year to $5 billion, up from $3.5 billion, as they wouldn’t need to spend as much on content, thanks to the strikes.

They have more cash, added more subscribers, but they still refuse to pay the people who helped put them in that position. Viewers don’t subscribe to Netflix because of the executives; they subscribe because of the content. Yet, it’s the executives who are earning all the money.

But don’t worry, Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who earned $50 million last year, can “feel the pain” of those on strike.

“I was raised in a union household,” the Netflix co-CEO declared at the top of the streamer’s latest earnings call this afternoon. “My dad was a member of IBEW Local 640, he was a union electrician,” the Phoenix, Arizona-born Sarandos said. “And I remember his local because that union was very much a part of our lives when I was growing up. And I also remember on more than one occasion, my Dad being out on strike. And I remember that because it takes an enormous toll on your family, financially and emotionally.”

Sarandos asserts he is “super committed” to reaching an agreement with SAG and the WGA “as soon as possible.”

Sarandos is lying. The longer the strike goes on, the better it is for Netflix. Netflix is basically in the driver’s seat here because it not only benefits the most from the existing system but it’s also poised to hold out the longest due to the system. While the networks are running out of content, and other streamers are clinging to their subscribers, Netflix is freeing up cash flow, adding more subscribers, and has months of content in reserve. The longer the strike goes on, the more Netflix stands to gain over its rivals.

Hear that, Disney? Warner Brothers? Paramount? NBC/Universal? Ted Sarandos is playing you. Netflix isn’t just winning because it can hold out the longest — it also has a ton of content not affected by the strikes, still being produced internationally — but because people like Bob Iger and David Zaslav have diverted all the PR heat off of Netflix by being cartoon supervillains. Netflix didn’t trim the trees to deprive striking writers and actors of shade. Universal did. Netflix isn’t canceling superhero movies for tax write-offs. Warner Brothers is. Netflix isn’t claiming the unions’ demands are “unrealistic.” Disney is.

Ted Sarandos is out here “feeling their pain” while amassing more money and power at the expense of not just the writers and actors, but the rest of the AMPTP. Netflix will eventually cave to some of the demands of the writers and actors, but by then, the streamer will have more money to spend on agreements. This money will come at the expense of other studios because when Beetlejuice 2 and Deadpool 3 get delayed a year, everyone will fill their content needs with Netflix. While ABC is producing The Golden Bachelor and CBS is trotting out five-year-old bleeped reruns of Yellowstone, Netflix is producing the next Squid Games. Netflix is paying $.27 in streaming residuals to the stars of their hit television shows, adding new subscribers, freeing up cash flow, and waving to all the suckers from their parade floats. When will Zaslav and Iger figure out that Netflix is shaking their hand with one hand and picking their pocket with the other?