Reed Hastings just made a bold claim: that Netflix is the “biggest builder of European culture”.
Speaking at Netflix’s European headquarters in Amsterdam, the streamer’s founder and executive chairman said an “unexpected” result of pushing European originals was how shows and movies from one country had performed in other countries.
“The amazing has been [seeing] how many Germans or Italians watch Spanish series,” he said. “It was not our intention to do that, but we have become the largest builder of cross-European culture in the EU. This is partly because all other networks are national networks specializing in one language group. We specialize in connecting.”
He joked that it was “ironic that it’s an American company” reaching that level of soft power. “Or an American company that is now a Dutch company,” he added.
Netflix has been in deep talks with the EU over content quotas in various European territories for several years now. Hastings has been critical of quotas on several occasions in the past.
Hastings’ comments came today at an event that brought together European policymakers, politicians and journalists to highlight Netflix’s impact in EMEA. Last year, the region became the largest streamer with 76.7 million subscribers, overtaking the 74.3 million in the US and Canada.
He appeared alongside Netflix Co-CEO Greg Peters during a fireside chat moderated by Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands. Peters, who took up his new role in January, talked about the streamer’s history of taking risks while noting the challenges rival media companies face.
“The original concept was the easiest risk to take,” he said. “We were lucky to see streaming and lead in it, and now we’re leading in engagement and revenue and profit, and everyone is trying to catch up. They have the very difficult job of rejecting the traditional, historical stuff as they pop up on streaming. That is very difficult to manage.
“It is our job not to become complacent and not to worry about past successes preventing us from taking new risks. We need to keep risk appetite sharp and stay hungry.”
Hastings added: “Risk is like oxygen. You just grow up from that.”
Earlier at the event, Netflix VP for Content, Larry Tanz, revealed a few comedy films from the Netherlands, The Dadchelor And Bad Boas.
The Dadchelor comes from Jon Karthaus and Daan van den Nouweland is the story of the very responsible Mark, who is about to become a father and goes on a seemingly innocent ‘dadchelor’ weekend that spirals out of control and even ruins the lives of his friends the game moves line. Johnnywood and NRG Productions are attached.
Bad Boas was made in collaboration with the popular Dutch comedian Jandino Asporaat, who also plays the lead role. The plot follows a well-meaning but barely effective BOA (extraordinary investigative officers who assist the police in overseeing local law and order) who sets out to make his neighborhood more livable before dying of a terminal illness. When he and his new partner accidentally land on a major drug bust, he sees it as an opportunity to take down a drug gang, though the gang’s underworld boss doesn’t see them as a threat.
Huntu, a collaboration of production companies Het Huis van Asporaat and Kaap Holland Film, is producing.
Dutch Netflix films and series that will be launched this year include an exciting thriller Noiseromcom the miracle weeks, And Happy endingthe debut film by Joosje Duk, winner of Netflix’s New Voices competition in 2021, along with a second film by Shady El-Hamus and a prequel to feature film Secret titled Ferry: The Series.
Tanz said of Netflix’s work in their EMEA region: “We’ve worked over the past few years to get to this point where we have very strong films and series and incredible relationships with talent. Now we’re at the point where we have the people and understand what the audience likes and wants to see, and we want to keep growing that.
He said Netflix EMEA members “watch an average of six genres per month”, pointing to data showing that those who enjoy French detective mystery adventure series She-wolf also watch comedy, reality and thrillers. “What we need to do is provide them with a wide variety of movies and series in all these genres,” Tanz added.