Netflix EMEA Boss Says California Mothership Is “Very Hands Off” On International Content Strategy

Netflix’s EMEA chief has described his Los Gatos overlords as “very hands off” when it comes to content strategy outside the U.S.

Speaking to journalists at a Netflix site tour in Spain, Larry Tanz said the days when Money Heist creator Álex Pina had to “literally fly to LA to pitch a show so that he could make it in Spain” are long gone, as he talked up the streamer’s latest wave of local content.

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Instead, creatives are now pitching shows in Spanish to local content chief Diego Ávalos, explained Tanz, “and that’s true in [territories like] Germany and Italy.”

“Creators used to have to figure out a way to break into Hollywood just so they could realize their creative vision,” said Tanz, who was speaking a day after Netflix opened an office around the corner from its Tres Cantos studio in Madrid. “Some companies still operate that way but we made this shift quite a number of years ago. Our footprint [outside the U.S.] used to be a small townhouse in Amsterdam and now we have 11 offices, teams in different countries and production all over Europe.” He described his U.S. bosses as “very hands off” when it comes to local commissioning strategies.

Journalists at the event were given a tour of the virtual set of Pina’s new series, The Fallout Shelter – co-created with Esther Martínez Lobato – following a group of billionaires who seek refuge in a luxury bunker as World War III breaks out around them.

Tanz used The Fallout Shelter as an example of a show heavily targeted at its local audience, free from the pressure of the latest global hit.

“[Viewing to] Suits shot up last year and all of a sudden we saw the industry follow these lawyer dramas and we just said, ‘No, we’re going to do something completely different,” he said.

Ávalos concurred, adding that the industry has been “beholden to following the latest success and all of a sudden mirroring that, but we are doing the opposite.”

Also touted during the Netflix Spain press tour was medical drama Respira from Elite creator Carlos Monteiro and Bridgerton-esque drama Manual Para Señoritas, which was described by its showrunner Gema R. Neira as a “period comedy with a twist.”

Tanz and Ávalos are hopeful both can become returners and the duo of shows’ creators are deep in development on second seasons prior to the first launching. On the Madrid site, they revealed that the set for Respira took around six months to build and it would therefore be highly advantageous for the show to run beyond one eight-part series.

With the Netflix U.S. mothership shifting focus to profit over subs alongside introducing ads and a password sharing crackdown, Tanz said his team’s commissioning strategy has held steady. In the past few months, and as rival streamers’ international strategies have been rethought amidst chaos in the U.S., Netflix has revealed dozens of new series and movies across EMEA.

“We are continuing to invest and that remains consistent,” said Tanz. “No entertainment company has tried to programme the breadth [that Netflix] offers and with that ambition we continue to invest.”

Ávalos, who has been with Netflix for nearly a decade, said a “diversity of storytelling” is required for the streamer’s plus-500 million subs around the world.

He pointed out that Netflix Spain only entered the unscripted originals game two and a half years ago and is now looking to new areas such as sports shows including an all access series about the La Liga soccer division.

Movie commitment

Society Of The Snow
Society of the Snow

Tanz, who was speaking from the studio where JA Bayona’s Oscar-nominated Society of the Snow was made, reiterated Netflix EMEA’s commitment to local original movies alongside film deals with some of the biggest studios in Europe.

Along with making originals like All Quiet on the Western Front, Netflix has distribution deals in place with the likes of Constantin Film – for which it “finances a big portion of the theatrical slate,” according to Tanz – Studiocanal and SF Studios.

“We don’t care so much where something comes from [whether original or otherwise], but what we care about is bringing the best films to our members,” he added.

Compared with TV series, for which a Netflix premiere is more crucial, Tanz said he is happy for the streamer to “follow something that has already been in the [movie] theater.”

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