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Hastings’ co-CEO role passes to Peters as Netflix activates succession plan

Netflix has rejigged several of the titles and roles within its leadership team, with Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos, Greg Peters and Bela Bajaria all taking on different positions as part of its “succession process.”

Reed Hastings

Co-founder Hastings, who was previously co-CEO and chairman, has dropped his CEO title and taken the role of executive chairman.

Meanwhile, Greg Peters, former chief operating officer, has been promoted to co-CEO alongside existing co-CEO Sarandos.

Bela Bajaria, formerly head of global television, has been elevated to the c-suite as chief content officer, the role previously held by Sarandos. In addition, Scott Stuber was named chairman of Netflix Film.

“Starting today, Greg Peters will step up from COO to become Ted’s co-CEO. Going forward, I’ll be serving as executive chairman, a role that founders often take (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, etc.) after they pass the CEO baton to others,” said Hastings in a blog post.

Greg Peters

“Ted, Greg and I have been working closely together in different capacities for 15 years. As is common in long, effective relationships, we’ve all learned how to bring out the best in each other. I look forward to working with them in this role for many years to come.”

In his new capacity, Hastings added that he will be the bridge between the board and the co-CEOs, as well as spending more time on philanthropy while remaining “very focused on Netflix stock doing well.”

The announcement of the leadership reorganisation comes as Netflix closes out the fiscal year in impressive fashion, adding 7.7 million subscribers in the fourth quarter (far above its forecast of 4.5 million adds).

The streaming giant now has 230.8 million subscribers globally, with Netflix pointing to Addams Family spin-off Wednesday, docuseries Harry & Meghan, Norwegian action-adventure movie Troll and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery as key customer acquisition drivers.

The fourth quarter has historically been Netflix’s strongest of the year in terms of subscriber gains. However, after losing 200,000 subs in the first quarter and 970,000 in the second, before recovering to add 2.41 million in the third quarter, few if any analysts had predicted such a substantial uptick to close out the year.

By region, Netflix added the majority of its new subs in EMEA, with 3.2 million, followed by APAC (1.8 million), Latin America (1.76 million) and North America (910,000). Fourth quarter revenue grew 1.9% year-on-year to US$7.85bn.

While subscriber numbers have been bumpy throughout the year, Netflix highlighted that 2022 was its most successful year in terms of the volume of hits it released. Over the past year, Netflix said it had launched five of its 10 most popular English-language TV shows ever (Stranger Things 4, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Bridgerton season two and Inventing Anna); four of its top 10 most popular English-language films (The Adam Project, The Gray Man, Purple Hearts and Glass Onion); seven of its top 10 non-English films (Troll, All Quiet on the Western Front, Black Crab, Through My Window, The Takedown, My Name is Vendetta and Loving Adults); and two of its most popular non-English series (All of Us Are Dead, Extraordinary Attorney Woo).

During an investor call, the new co-CEO team of Sarandos and Peters said they were not planning to implement any sweeping strategic shifts in the immediate future. Peters characterised the new CEO regime as “just continuity and moving forward.”

With free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) continuing to be the talk of the town, there was also a hint that Netflix might look to get in on the action. When asked if the streamer would consider launching its own FAST channels, Sarandos said Netflix was “keeping an eye on that segment for sure.”

“We’re open to all these different models that are out there right now, but we’ve got a lot on our plate this year both with the paid [account] sharing and launch of advertising, and continuing with this [new] slate of content we’re trying to drive to our members,” he said.

The topic of live sports was again raised and Sarandos once again doubled down on his stance that Netflix does not see a profit path with renting major sports rights.

He was also asked about whether Netflix would be interested in looking at WWE, the professional wrestling organisation, after it was placed on the market earlier this month. Sarandos declined to comment, saying: “We have a lot of M&A activity all the time, we look at all of them, but nothing we can comment on.”

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