Netflix to ease up on content spend

Stranger Things 4

Netflix’s surging rate of spending on content is set to slow as the streamer adjusts to recent subscriber decline and a plummeting stock price, but there will not be any “radical shifts” to its business.

Bela Bajaria, head of global TV at the streamer, told delegates at the BANFF World Media Festival that the SVOD would remain focused on its core activity of providing entertainment to subscribers despite the “noise” around it at present.

“The business works. When we make a great show like Stranger Things, people watch it,” said Bajaria, who also used her appearance to unveil a new gameshow spun off from its hit drama Squid Game, complete with a record-breaking $4.56m prize for the winner.

“We are not making some radical shift of our business, we’re not merging or having a big transitional phase,” she said. “When I look at a noisy period like this, it’s about getting back to the basics.”

Bajaria, who has been behind shows including Lupin from France and Bridgerton from the UK, said the company’s content spend – estimated at a round $17bn this year – would remain steady, despite the company’s share price falling 70% so far in 2022.

The exec did not give specifics but said Netflix would “continue to grow content”, but added that the hit to subscriber numbers would also see “slowed growth” on the amount invested into shows. “We’re not reducing it, but just slowing it because of how we’re looking at the next few years.”

Bajaria added: “I look at if we’re still taking chances, are we still a great place to work for ourselves and our creators. At the end of the day, we just have to make TV shows without distraction.”

In a conversation that extended to Bajaria’s early years in the UK to her first roles in TV, the Netflix exec – who took up her role in 2020 – also said she wanted shows that focused on local audiences.

“If someone says to me, ‘I have a global show for you, then I don’t want it. When you try to make a show for everyone, then you make a show for no one.”

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