Ted Sarandos

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Ted Sarandos
SXSW 2016 - Ted Sarandos (25752599662).jpg
Sarandos at South by Southwest 2016
EducationGlendale Community College
TitleCo-chief executive officer
Chief content officer
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Michelle Sarandos (div.)
Nicole Avant (m. 2009)

Theodore Anthony Sarandos Jr. is an American businessman who serves as the co-chief executive officer and chief content officer for Netflix.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Sarandos was born in Phoenix, Arizona. His father was Ted Sarandos Sr, an electrician, and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. He is the fourth of five children, with three older sisters and a younger brother.[2][3] Sarandos' paternal grandfather came from the Greek island of Samos to the United States as a young boy. His grandfather's family name was originally Kariotakis but he changed it to Sarandos.[4]

As a child, Sarandos spent hours watching TV shows like I Love Lucy, The Jack Benny Program and The Andy Griffith Show. He stated that his family did not travel much "so the way to see the world was through books and movies and television." In his teens, he developed a knowledge of film and TV, and strong instincts for what people liked while working at a video store.[5] While writing for his high school newspaper, Sarandos met and interviewed the actor Ed Asner, who was in Phoenix for a local Screen Actors Guild meeting. Asner, then in the height of his Lou Grant period, introduced Sarandos to others in the entertainment industry, for further interviews and connected his interests in entertainment, politics, and journalism.[3] Sarandos attended Glendale Community College in Glendale, Arizona.[6][7]

He was promoted to store manager of the Arizona Video Cassettes West chain in 1983 and managed eight retail video stores until 1988.[2][8] In 1988, Sarandos became Western Regional Director of Sales and Operations for one of the largest video distributors in the United States, East Texas Distributors (ETD). Until March 2000, Sarandos was Vice President of Product and Merchandising for the almost 500 store chain, Video City/West Coast Video.[7][9] While at West Coast Video, he was responsible for negotiating revenue deals to migrate the company from the VHS format into the DVD format.[3]


After meeting Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in 1999, Sarandos joined Netflix in 2000.[8][10] He serves as its Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Content Officer, overseeing Netflix's original programming and entertainment efforts.[11] He is also a member of the Peabody Awards[12] board of directors, which is presented by the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Sarandos was responsible for initiating the first round of original programming at Netflix, starting with Lilyhammer, and then continuing with the breakout David Fincher series starring Kevin Spacey, House of Cards.[8] Beginning with House of Cards, which was bought for $100 million in a March 2011 deal,[2] Sarandos created the model where Netflix purchases multiple seasons of shows without pilot orders.[13][14] Sarandos sees the focus as being on subscriber growth as a reflection of revenue health over ratings, especially because the ad-supported model doesn't apply to Netflix.[15]

Sarandos uses algorithms at Netflix[16][17] to predict what programs viewers will want to watch prior to producing them.[8] His personal algorithm focuses on 30% judgement (as a highest priority), with 70% focused on a base of data.[18] He also said that the focus is on the audience, and that there is no programming grid – or appointment linear-based television – that is typically used by traditional TV networks. Barometers of success are if the audience completes watching the show, the timeframe within which they finish watching a series if there is social media buzz by critics and fans. Sarandos said that the preference is for a show to run for multiple seasons and build a fan base.[15] Sarandos believes the model allows the viewer to be in control, and to watch only the content they enjoy.[19] The more serialized the show is, the longer the revenue stream. Sarandos sees cost per hour basis as greater the more total run time there is across the lifetime of a show, as it is often not cost savings to produce less original content once production is underway.[20]

Sarandos said the comparison of TV network ratings to Netflix isn't meaningful as the typical Netflix release model of pushing out content is full season availability at once. No advertising means there's no need for typical ratings. He said Netflix aggregates audiences over a very long period of time, where Netflix can tell if a show will be successful by using a regression models that tells Netflix, based on the first hour of viewing, how successful the show will be over the life of its license.[21]

Sarandos has been outspoken about discarding or not holding important traditional network models. Although historically a big broadcast TV fan,[22] he describes the model as now becoming archaic. Sarandos sees the new model as a way to prioritize the needs and desires of the consumer.[3][23] Part of this is the refusal to release ratings and metrics of viewership.[20][8][24] International reach and long tail, niche appeal is also an important part of the business model. The spend is typically a large upfront payment, with no back-end fees to talent and creators, especially of original content that Netflix owns.[25][26] Sarandos said that he sees the Netflix brand as being based on personalization, that it was a deliberate choice on the part of Netflix to focus on providing diverse content that would appeal to the tastes of a broad base of viewers.[27] One that would not be focused on a marquee show that Netflix would be known for, but quality shows that would appeal to different audiences.[20]

Sarandos sees Netflix as a digital product, where the balance between distributing physical bits of content versus streaming digital content would be cheaper as both broadband and Netflix grew, i.e. postal economics vs. streaming economics. This was something that Sarandos said he and his team was closely analyzing at a micro fiscal level. The shift away from the DVD business comes from this evaluation of new model focused on streaming and includes original programming, which is one of the main responsibilities of Sarandos' work at Netflix.[21]

Sarandos set up a multi-picture deal with Adam Sandler, which was met with criticism. In defense, Sarandos said that the numbers make sense, something he characterizes as "data-influenced intuition," and that Sandler has a global appeal.[28] Sarandos characterized Sandler's 2015 film The Ridiculous 6 as successful, saying it garnered the highest number of Netflix viewers streaming a film within the first 30 days of its release.[29][30]

During the 2016 Television Critics Association presentation, Sarandos said he expects the amount Netflix spends on original programming to rise considerably.[20][15] In terms of volume, Sarandos said that Netflix will be showing over 600 hours of original programming in 2016.[20]

In 2020, Netflix announced Sarandos as its co-chief executive officer and member of the company's board of directors. Hastings had referred to Sarandos as his partner in running Netflix in previous years, specifically on film and TV production.[31] Later that year, Netflix was indicted for its film, Cuties by a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas. Netflix defended the film saying, "Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film."[32]


Under his leadership, the company received 54 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations in 2016.[25][26]

Board and advisory work[edit]

Sarandos is a member of many boards.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Sarandos married Michelle Sarandos, his first wife,[50] with whom he had two children, Sarah and Tony, both graduates of Beverly Hills High School.[37] In 2009, Sarandos married former United States Ambassador to the Bahamas (2009–2011), Nicole Avant, the daughter of former Motown Chairman Clarence Avant.[9] The couple live in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles,[51] after previously living in Avant's home town of Beverly Hills, California.[52] In 2013, the couple purchased a beach house formerly owned by David Spade in Malibu, California.[53] Sarandos has said he is Catholic.[37]

Sarandos and his wife held a fundraiser for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign in Southern California in 2009, and raised over $700,000 for the Democratic candidate.[54] This relationship was instrumental in getting the couple to sign a multiyear deal to produce series and films for the video streaming service. "It's not the Obama Network, it's not the MSNBC shift," Sarandos said at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on Tuesday. "There's no political slate to the programming."[citation needed] Following the deal's announcement, some subscribers posted subscription cancellation screenshots on Twitter.[55]


  1. ^ Snider, Mike. "Netflix names Ted Sarandos as co-CEO, surpasses subscriber forecast during coronavirus pandemic". usatoday.com. USA Today. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Segal, David (8 February 2013). "The Netflix Fix". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Fernandez, Giselle (18 December 2015). "Big Shots: Full Conversation with Ted Sarandos" (Video interview). Los Angeles. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  4. ^ Papapostolou, Anastasios (15 January 2016). "Ted Sarandos Talks Netflix Boom and Greek Heritage". Greek Reporter. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  5. ^ Edwardes, Charlotte (9 May 2019). "Netflix's Ted Sarandos: The most powerful person in Hollywood?". Standard.co.uk. Evening Standard.
  6. ^ Bland, Karina (19 May 2016). "What Ms. Fiedler taught me about telling stories". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b Martinson, Jane (15 March 2015). "Netflix's Ted Sarandos: 'We like giving great storytellers big canvases'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e Jeffries, Stuart (30 December 2013). "Netflix's Ted Sarandos: the 'evil genius' behind a TV revolution". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  9. ^ a b c "Management: Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer". Netflix. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  10. ^ Auletta, Ken (3 February 2014). "The Red-Envelope Revolution. Outside the Box: Netflix and the future of television". The New Yorker. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  11. ^ Cutter, Chip. "Co-CEOs Are Out of Style. Why Is Netflix Resurrecting the Management Model?". wsj.com. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Who We Are". Grady College and University of Georgia. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  13. ^ Chmielewski, Dawn C. (25 August 2013). "Ted Sarandos upends Hollywood with Netflix revolution". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  14. ^ Aric, Jenkins. "Ted Sarandos was already co-CEO of Netflix". Fortune.com.
  15. ^ a b c Jarvey, Natalie; Goldberg, Lesley (27 July 2016). "Ted Sarandos on Netflix Programming Budget: "It'll Go Up" From $6 Billion". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  16. ^ Simon, Phil (March 2013). "Big Data Lessons From Netflix". Wired. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  17. ^ Magnusson, Jeff (14 November 2013). "Big Data Data Platform as a Service @ Netflix". Netflix @ QCon SF 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  18. ^ Wu, Tim (27 January 2015). "Netflix's Secret Special Algorithm Is a Human". The New Yorker. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  19. ^ Wu, Tim (5 December 2013). "Netflix's War on Mass Culture". The New Republic. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  20. ^ a b c d e Sepinwall, Alan (26 January 2016). "Why Matt Weiner 'would lose' if he wanted to make a weekly Netflix show". HitFix. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  21. ^ a b Sarandos, Ted; Bedol, Brian; Clemons, Steve (28 October 2013). "The New Television Disrupters" (video). The Aspen Institute. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  22. ^ Lear, Norman; Sarandos, Ted (2014). "The Power of Storytelling: Plotting the Future of Media". Paley Center for Media. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  23. ^ Arnold, Shayna Rose (27 July 2015). "Big Shots: Ted Sarandos". Los Angeles. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  24. ^ Adalian, Josef (1 December 2015). "How Hollywood Gossips About Netflix's Hidden Ratings". Vulture. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  25. ^ a b Belloni, Matthew; Rose, Lacey (10 August 2016). "TV Titans Roundtable: 5 Chiefs Spar Over the Future (and Netflix's Role as Arch-Frenemy)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  26. ^ a b Belloni, Matthew; Rose, Lacey (10 August 2016). "THR Full TV Executives Roundtable: ft. The Titans Behind HBO, Netflix, AMC, A+E, & NBCUniversal" (Video). The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  27. ^ Carr, David (24 February 2013). "For 'House of Cards,' Using Big Data to Guarantee Its Popularity". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  28. ^ Wallenstein, Andrew (28 July 2015). "Ted Sarandos Defends Adam Sandler-Netflix Deal in Wake of 'Pixels' Bow". Variety. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  29. ^ Lenker, Margaret (7 January 2016). "Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous Six' Is Making History for Netflix". Variety. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  30. ^ Crouch, Ian (7 January 2016). "The Image of Netflix as a Content Utopia". The New Yorker. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  31. ^ "Netflix Caps Its Hollywood Transformation With Sarandos Move". Bloomberg.
  32. ^ "Netflix Indicted in Texas for 'Lewd' Content in 'Cuties'". Variety.
  33. ^ "AGLN - Aspen Global Leadership Network: User Profile - Ted Sarandos". Aspen Institute. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  34. ^ Wallenstein, Andrew (4 June 2010). "Digital Power 50 for 2010". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  35. ^ "THR's 2012 Digital Power 50". The Hollywood Reporter. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  36. ^ Tambor, Jeffrey (18 April 2013). "The 2013 TIME 100. Ted Sarandos: Netflix chief content officer, 48". Time. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  37. ^ a b c Daunt, Tina (19 March 2014). "Wiesenthal Center, Hollywood Power Elite Honor Netflix's Ted Sarandos". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  38. ^ Torok, Ryan (28 March 2014). "Moving and Shaking: Ted Sarandos honored, Persian New Year and Righteous Conversations Project PSAs". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  39. ^ Carey, Matthew (2015). "How Ted Sarandos Transformed Netflix into a Global Doc Streamer". International Documentary Association. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  40. ^ "Silicon Beach Power 25: A Ranking of L.A.'s Top Digital Media Players". The Hollywood Reporter. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  41. ^ "Ted Sarandos, 2015 Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award Recipient". NATPE 2015. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  42. ^ "NATPE 2015: 12th Annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards". NATPE 2015. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  43. ^ "Thomas Lennon on the legacy of National Lampoon". Metro US. 2018-02-15. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  44. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2020-08-19). "Ron Meyer Steps Down As Academy Museum Board Chair Post NBCU Exit". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  45. ^ "Television Academy Executive Committee Appointees Announced". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  46. ^ "About ETA: Ted Sarandos, Board Treasurer". Exploring The Arts. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  47. ^ Kaiser, Andrew (2015). "A Big Thanks to All Our Recent Sponsors and Donors". International Documentary Association. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  48. ^ "Our Board: Advisory Board". Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  49. ^ "Ted Sarandos - Film Independent". Film Independent. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  50. ^ "Theodore A Sarandos - United States Public Records". FamilySearch. 1 July 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  51. ^ David, Mark (17 June 2015). "Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas Sell L.A. Estate at Record Shattering Price". Variety. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  52. ^ David, Mark (25 August 2015). "Netflix's Ted Sarandos Selling Beverly Hills Traditional Home". Variety. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  53. ^ Abramian, Alexandria (25 July 2013). "Netflix's Ted Sarandos Buys David Spade's Malibu Beach House". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  54. ^ Daunt, Tina (25 April 2012). "Obama's $500,000 Power Couple". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  55. ^ Reisinger, Don (22 May 2018). "Netflix Users Threaten Boycott Over Obama Content Deal". Fortune. Retrieved 31 July 2018.

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