Netflix Exec: You’ll Keep Watching Our Movies, Even When We Don’t Offer You Many Good Ones

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Longtime Netflix subscribers may have noticed that the selection of movies on the streaming service has shrunk significantly over the last few years, but customers keep watching movies anyway. That’s according to the company’s head of content, Ted Sarandos, who explained at a conference this week that people love to watch movies on Netflix no matter how large the selection.

U.S. viewers have a lot fewer movies available to us than our neighbors up in Canada, since Netflix has licensed content libraries up there that the much larger audience here doesn’t have access to.

Here’s the weird thing, though: Business Insider shared Sarandos’ observation that no matter how many movies are actually available, about a third of what customers on both sides of the border watch is always movies.

What’s the company’s solution to that? Gradually reducing how many movies it pays for is one possible solution, finally leaving all customers spending 33% of our screen time streaming Gigli over and over. Netflix’s actual solution has three parts, though:

Developing original movies. This makes sense, and goes along with its original TV strategy. Creating its own content means that there will always be movies that customers can only get from Netflix, instead of them being commodities that could be available from any of the popular streaming services.

New releases. Most of these will be Netflix’s own productions, but the company still wants to have new films available to its customers the same day that they’re released in theaters, since there’s always a portion of the public that prefers to watch movies in their pajamas. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said that the current movie theater business model is “strangling” the industry by keeping new releases artificially unavailable.

Licensing Disney movies. The Disney library consists of films that people enjoy watching repeatedly, and that small children enjoy watching multiple times per day. A Netflix-Disney content deal is good for both sides, and will also make the movie-hungry public happy.

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