Netflix Execs Share International Content Strategy


Bill Holmes, Netflix’s global head of business development, and the platform’s VP of content acquisitions, Robert Roy, weighed in on the company’s international progress and content strategy at APOS today in Bali.

Working with telcos is a significant new opportunity for the platform in Asia, Holmes noted. He added that metrics for viewing and retention are key indicators as the platform looks at how it is performing in any given market. “Especially voluntary churn. If there’s a method of payment failure, it’s not necessarily an indication that the consumer doesn’t want the service. Voluntary churn is a clear signal to us that we don’t have the right product in the market. We’re looking at it across the region to see where do we have engagement, and where is engagement lagging behind where we’d like it. That helps us calibrate our spending on content.”

He continued, “Initially when we enter a market, we tend to see lower viewing hours and that correlates to higher churn. We continue to play with the library. What we’ve been smarter about over time is holding money back and getting a sense as to where the library is going to be most attractive to consumers and then increasing that investment. It’s much more targeted spending.”

Roy said the company is hyper-focused on deploying its content spend as effectively as it can. He also noted that having a global platform is a “game changer” for the creative community. “We’re bringing content to a global audience day and date. People can have a conversation [worldwide] in real time.”

Roy, when asked about what kinds of content don’t work, responded: “longer-tail content that is available everywhere. We learned a lot from our launch in Mexico. We went out very aggressively thinking that telenovelas were what we needed to have. Nobody watched them. We’re looking for what is going to resonate with a subscriber. We’re trying different things out. We look for things that are under-exploited in a market.”

Holmes noted that working with local partners helps Netflix gain an understanding of a given market, as well as providing improved access to the service for consumers. “In an ideal environment, we amplify each other’s efforts.”

On original productions globally, Roy said it’s about helping creators “tell elevated stories.” He noted that in Mexico, Netflix’s first original was Club de Cuervos, a “reimagined” version of a telenovela format with a shorter number of episodes and higher budget. “We’re trying to figure out what the storytelling community wants to tell if it doesn’t have a format to do it yet and how we provide that for them with a global distribution platform.”