Netflix Executive Ted Sarandos was given a rigorous examination by interviewer Raymond Snoddy at a well-attended TV Festival event as he tried to explain his company's rationale for moving into content provision.
The affable American kept his cool as Snoddy repeatedly put it to him that Netflix's model wouldn't work. Some of the attacks were easily rebuffed as they were based on assertions put forward by Netflix's competition but Snoddy's persistence ensured that some of the barbs hit their target.
Sarandos was flustered when pressed to reveal how many of the million subscribers they claim to have in the UK are currently enjoying a free trial. Reluctant to answer directly, Sarandos revealed that it was the same proportion as it is in other markets but this merely prompted Snoddy to ask what the figure was in this other territories.
The focus of Sarandos's opening presentation was news of his company's 26-part adaptation of the 1990s BBC series 'House of Cards'. David Fincher is the show's executive producer and has directed the first two episodes of the drama which stars Kevin Spacey.
Sarandos refused to accept that making House of Cards was as much of a gamble as others believe. He has great faith in the 'taste-based algorithms' that guide the decision-making process at Netflix and he insists that their distribution model doesn't require the same immediate success as a conventional broadcaster. If not enough people watch a programme when it is broadcast then it's considered a flop but, Sarandos explained, there is no comparable test when consumers can download content whenever they want.
The questioning continued to focus on perceived flaws in Netflix's business model and Sarandos continued to deflect them as much as he could by talking instead about the company's excitement about their forthcoming productions.