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Inside Netflix: Quest for content will sweep Africa

In the second of a series of behind-the-scenes reports from Netflix studios, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers an appetite for new stories.

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It may have started out as a better way to rent movies, but now Netflix is revolutionising the entire American film and TV industries. That’s not news. The next big shift, however, is likely to be the transformation of content production worldwide, and Africa is squarely in the Netflix sights.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, chief product officer Greg Peters said that South Africa and Nigeria were among the many key markets in which it expected to make significant investments in content.

Greg Peters at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re looking to increasingly find storytellers from around the world, especially ones who haven’t been able to tell the story they want because traditional production partners are not willing to tell it, or they can’t find a big enough audience,” he said.

“Our job is to provide a platform, both a production platform, and then a distribution platform, because we are really good at finding audiences that are much much bigger than any storyteller has ever been able to find before. We’re going to invest in every part of the world, including Africa.”

Peters emphasised the need for fresh stories, as opposed to those that repeated traditionally popular formulae.

“We feel like it’s exciting that we don’t have a lot of restrictions. We want compelling stories, a strong vision, authentic story telling, that can come from a whole different range of formats. To open up storytelling in ways that was not opened before.”

Peters was speaking at the end of a two-day Netflix event called Labs Day, which exposed a small group of media from around the world to the inner workings of the business.

Peters revealed that, when he joined Netflix in 2008, he was just one of eight people working on streaming. At that stage, the company was making most of its money from distributing movies on DVD through the mail, with subscriptions and orders managed entirely on the Web.

Click here to read about how Netflix was founded, what it meant to competitors, and what Netflix means to traditional pay-TV.

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