For the past several years, Netflix has seemingly been opening its checkbook at every available opportunity for every creator with an idea. The era of big spending may finally be coming to an end, though, as The Information reports that Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos recently told a substantial group of mid- and high-level film and TV executives at the company that spending needs to be more cost-effective going forward.
Former employees say that Netflix would often let the buzz and critical acclaim a project delivering justify the cost, but in the future, if the company is going to spend a lot of money on an original movie or series, it needs to do so with the expectation that the big-budget project in question will drive actual viewership.
As CNBC notes, Netflix has been spending more money every year, with a net cash flow of negative $380 million for the first quarter of 2019. That’s nearly $100 million more than the negative cash flow from the same quarter last year. You can see why Netflix might want to be somewhat more conservative in the future.
One example that Sarandos cited as a project that wouldn’t be greenlit again was Triple Frontier, which cost $115 million to produce with its high-concept plot and star-studded cast, but never found an audience to justify its price tag. That’s not to say that Netflix will stop spending money, as it’s already set to spend $15 billion on original content this year alone, but the company at least seems to have narrowed its focus somewhat.
That said, when reached for comment by The Information, Netflix denied any changes in spending.
“There’s been no change to our content budgets, nor any big shifts in the sorts of projects we’re investing in, or the way we greenlight them,” a spokesperson told The Information.