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Netflix’s Hollywood Red Line

Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos
Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
May 2, 2022

I’ve been talking with a lot of transactional attorneys in Hollywood, and the No. 1 topic by far right now is what’s going on with Netflix. The streamer was, until very recently, the most profligate content machine in Hollywood, spending tens of billions of dollars every year on dozens upon dozens of shows, many of them low quality. Now, with its stock in the toilet and layoffs on the horizon, everyone in town is looking to Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos for clues as to how Netflix might begin to pare back or restructure future deals.

So what can we learn from those who are sitting on the other side of the negotiating table from Netflix? The streamer is thinking a lot these days about new revenue opportunities. The company is pushing hard to capture ancillary rights including live stage adaptations, merchandising, and especially the ability to do video games. Perhaps a bit more surprising, Netflix wants the contractual ability to take content off platform. Why? Dealmakers can only speculate about syndication plans or even an eventual sale of the entire company. Also, while there hasn’t been much pullback just yet on new projects and renewals, talent lawyers are deeply concerned that Netflix’s free-spending days are over.