Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos tried to quell conservatives concerns about the streaming service’s multiyear production deal with Barack and Michelle Obama by saying it will not have a “political slant,” and that Netflix is “not the Obama network.”
The value of the deal wasn’t made public, but sources have pegged it in the $75 million range — is a drop in the bucket for Netflix, which has been spending billions on programming in an effort to convince people to dump their cable subscriptions.
“This is not the Obama Network. This is not the ESPN — the, er, MSNBC shift,” Sarandos said at the Paley Center for Media on Tuesday. “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.
Netflix’s motives for signing the Obama’s has come into question — particularly among conservatives, since they recently added former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice to its board.
Sarandos and his wife Nicole Avant are both Democrats — Avant served as U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009 to 2011.
The New York Times reported that the Obamas will produce “scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features” through its company Higher Ground Productions, touching on issues and themes from his eight years in the White House according to Netflix.
Despite trying to separate the Obama deal from politics, Sarandos did admit that Hollywood is not politically neutral.
“It’s hard to argue that there is not a left lean to the creative community,” he said.