Netflix Co-CEO Greg Peters, who oversaw the launch of Netflix in Japan in a previous exec role, said the strong debut of the series One Piece cleared “a very high bar” and attests to the company’s “evolving” content approach.
“This is a very high bar to meet, to basically take a storied manga and deliver it in English-language, live action,” the exec said. “Pretty much all the haters are out, looking for a reason to hate you for it. To be able to deliver it and have it be massively popular and a success around the world is amazing to see.”
Shortly before Peters made his comments at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Technology Conference, Netflix released its weekly Top 10 charts, which had One Piece topping the English-language rankings. While it fell short of Wednesday or Queen Charlotte levels, the adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s manga is in the Top 10 in 93 countries and No. 1 in 46 of them, with 18.5 million views from August 28 to September 3.
One Piece resulted from extensive collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese content teams at Netflix, Peters said. The series is an example of Netflix execs trying to find “places where there’s demand we’re not serving effectively” across the global subscriber base of 238 million, Peters said. “What we’re seeing is that the calculus behind that is getting more interesting and more complicated in ways that are very exciting to me.” During the rest of 2023, Peters estimated, several dozen new series will come along with the goal of “breaking down those barriers” between creators and audiences across territories. Paced by the ultimate example, 2021’s Squid Game, Netflix has increasingly prioritized series and films that can play well globally in spite of — or sometimes because of — their places of origin.
In addition to programming, Peters touched on progress by Netflix’s paid password sharing and advertising initiatives, two key responsibilities for the former product chief. Most of his comments matched closely with his comments and those of other members of Netflix’s management team on the company’s second-quarter earnings interview in July.
Netflix’s ad-supported tier launched last November and has since expanded globally, gaining traction as the company also imposed a fee for subscribers to let someone share their password, something that long was allowed for free. While reaching scale in ad-supported streaming is the main objective for now, Peters said the company is collaborating with Microsoft, its launch partner in the ad business, to develop new units built on the kind of targeting generally not available in linear TV. For example, advertisers “can buy space on our Top 10 row” on the home page, Peters said. “In linear, they were predicting which shows were going to be popular and maybe buying against those, or maybe not. We can actually say, ‘You can buy a piece of essentially the entire Netflix popularity by buying that Top 10 row.”
Asked whether the company cares whether a subscriber comes in at the lower-priced ad level or the higher-priced ad-free one, Peters said, “We want to engineer our way to a place where we are agnostic. … I don’t want to be in a position where we’re steering people” into one plan or another. “That ultimately won’t serve the business well and will hurt us with users.”
Boosted by the growth in ad-supported streaming, which spurred the biggest sequential jump in three years, Netflix reported 238.4 million subscribers as of the June 30 end of the second quarter.