Anne Mensah, Baby Reindeer, Creative Cities Convention, Netflix, News, Television, The Gentlemen

Netflix UK Boss Says She Will Not Change Course When Streamer Stops Reporting Subs Numbers

Netflix UK will not be changing its commissioning course when the streamer stops reporting quarterly subs numbers, according to its programing chief.

Anne Mensah, who oversees a huge slate featuring the likes of Baby Reindeer and The Gentlemen, said “there is no secret” for producers when they pitch to Netflix, and that this will remain the same given the streamer’s fresh focus on profit over subs.

“I can’t stress enough that [our commissioning strategy] is simply about how you get audiences to press play and stay,” she told the Creative Cities Convention in response to a question over Netflix’s decision to stop reporting quarterly subs numbers from next year.

“Before I arrived the idea was how to put in place a team that is authentically ‘of the UK’ and show you have absolute commitment to staying here long term,” she added. “For me the content remains utterly key.”

Mensah was speaking a week after Netflix used its Q1 results to reveal it will stop reporting quarterly subscriber numbers from next year, a huge change for the platform whose stock tends to get buffeted up or down by those numbers. It will still announce subscriber “milestones” but nothing on a regular basis. The streamer, which has pulled ahead of ailing rivals of late, added 9.3 million subscribers in the quarter ended March 31, reaching 269.6 million worldwide and outperforming expectations in other key areas.

Mensah wouldn’t be drawn on whether Netflix UK has been handed a budget boost given the recent success that has come amid a spate of big-budget international commissions. Instead, she said “consistency right now is what we should be doing” and revealed her slate is virtually set for the next couple of years.

“To be able to say I know what my slate looks like this year, next year or the year after [is so important],” she added. “We commission for years ahead in order to be part of the UK landscape.”

She spoke of the need for “consistency” several times during her Creative Cities keynote, necessary in this new era of contraction and with rivals rowing back.

“My shows all land in one go”

Anne Mensah

Another way in which Mensah is staying the course is by refusing to submit to the temptation to schedule shows weekly or in blocks rather than dropping all episodes at a time, she said.

“Some shows on Netflix might transmit weekly but mine all land in one go,” she added. “Audiences need to be in control of what we are giving them, empowering them to watch what they watch when they want to watch.”

She said “never say never” on scheduling shows in blocks and pointed to the success of the likes of Squid Game: The Challenge, which was a U.S. commission produced by two UK production companies.

Mensah reiterated Netflix’s support for the UK film and TV industry, which it has always said is its second biggest market beyond the U.S., and heaped praise on local pubcasters. She cited success stories like Film4’s BAFTAs haul, ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office and BBC smash The Traitors.

Mensah was opening the Creative Cities Convention, with the likes of Channel 4 boss Alex Mahon, Mr Bates vs the Post Office director James Strong and the cast of The Outlaws set to speak later.

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