Netflix has inked a multiyear deal with the Obamas for original programming — but the content from the former First Couple will not have any political bias, according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
“This is not The Obama Network,” said Sarandos, speaking Tuesday at the Paley Center for Media in New York. “There’s no political slant to the programming.”
Sarandos was interviewed by journalist Ken Auletta at the event. Noting that the Netflix exec is a Democrat, Auletta asked what he would say to Republicans about Netflix’s seeming push to the political left — including the appointment of former Obama adviser Susan Rice to its board.
“Umm, wait for the programming,” Sarandos responded.
He said Netflix’s deal with Higher Ground Productions, the production shingle formed by Barack and Michelle Obama, is for entertainment programming, including scripted films and TV shows as well as unscripted lifestyle content and docu-series. Netflix officially announced the deal last week.
The Obamas were forming Higher Ground Productions as they were leaving the White House, according to Sarandos, who added, “I didn’t want to see them go anywhere else because I think they’ll be great at it.”
That said, Sarandos allowed that “it’s hard to argue that there’s not a left lean to the creative community.” But he insisted that the original content Netflix greenlights and distributes is “an aggregation of all those storytellers,” not reflecting “the politics of me” or Netflix chairman and CEO Reed Hastings.
Sarandos in particular has a close relationship with the Obamas. His wife, Nicole Avant, served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas in President Obama’s first term in office.
SOURCE: Todd Spangler