Netflix Content Chief: Programming From Obamas Won't Have 'Political Slant'

May 29, 2018

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said content spearheaded by Barack and Michelle Obama as part of their multiyear production deal will not have a "political slant," saying Netflix is "not the Obama network."

Speaking with Sarandos at the Paley Center for Media in New York on Tuesday, the New Yorker's Ken Auletta noted in addition to the new deal with the Obamas, Sarandos and his wife Nicole Avant were both Democrats—Avant served as U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009 to 2011. Netflix also recently brought former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice onto its board.

"What do you say to a Republican who says, 'Netflix is too blue?'" Auletta asked.

"Wait for the programming," Sarandos said.

A Netflix press release said the Obamas will produce "scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features" through their company Higher Ground Productions, touching on issues and themes from his eight years in the White House, according to the New York Times.

Sarandos said the deal is for "entertainment programming," in addition to some "unscripted, documentary-style, lifestyle programming."

"This is not the Obama Network. This is not the ESPN—the, er, MSNBC shift," Sarandos said. "This is a company that they were forming as they were leaving the White House. They were moving to that phase of the business, and I didn't want to see that deal go anywhere else, because I think they're going to be great at it, and that was the investment."

"It will not have an influence on programming, and there's no political slant to the programming," he added.

He said Netflix was an aggregation of the politics of many storytellers and creators.

"It's hard to argue that there is not a left lean to the creative community," he said.