Netflix CEO: The Sussexes were ‘smart’ to shop themselves around to studios

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex gesture during their visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada,  in London on January 7, 2020.

In June, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were apparently taking meetings all over LA. They went to various studios and production companies and the visits were described as “pitch meetings” for a mystery project. I mentioned those mysterious pitch meetings when the Sussexes’ Netflix deal was announced, and my assumption now is that the Sussexes were not pitching a mystery project, they were listening to various offers being made by studios and production companies. The Sussexes wanted the best deal for themselves, a deal which would get them the most money, for sure, but they also wanted freedom to pursue projects which would build their charitable/humanitarian/inspirational/mindful brand. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, must have been concerned that he would lose the Sussexes to Disney+ or Hulu or NBCUniversal/Comcast, so he made them a generous offer. And here we are. Hastings spoke to CNBC yesterday:

Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings has high expectations for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s upcoming programming on the streaming platform. On CNBC’s Squawk Box, Hastings shared his excitement for the upcoming series, films, and documentaries to be produced by the Sussexes, and said that he is confident they will be some of the most popular content on the platform.

“It’s gonna be epic entertainment—so excited about that deal,” Hastings said. “They’re smart—they were shopping it around across all of the major companies, and I think we really put together the best complete package, and we’re going to do a wide range of entertainment with them…. I think it’ll be some of the most exciting, most viewed content next year.”

When asked if Meghan would return to acting for any of the shows, Hastings clarified that both Harry and Meghan are solely focused on their new behind-the-scenes roles as executive producers. “The real focus for them is on being producers and on building a production capacity, so that’s the key thing,” relayed Hastings. “They’ve developed a great eye for story, and we’ll be working with them on that basis.”

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

“They’re smart—they were shopping it around across all of the major companies, and I think we really put together the best complete package…” Yep. That’s what those June meetings were about. The Sussexes knew what they wanted and they took a lot of meetings to see which company would give it to them. Netflix would. I feel like Disney+ probably made them a good offer too, but we’ll likely never know. I can’t wait to see how the British media flips this around to make it sound like the Sussexes are completely awful for, like, knowing their value and smartly shopping around. How dare they have good business sense!

Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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37 Responses to “Netflix CEO: The Sussexes were ‘smart’ to shop themselves around to studios”

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  1. Sofia says:

    Disney probably did offer the most money because, well it’s Disney after all. But they probably wanted a lot more oversight because, again, it’s Disney after all. I recall a few Marvel (owned by Disney) directors leaving the projects entirely or complaining about how much oversight Disney wants and how they don’t allow room for the director and their creative vision.

    • LaraK says:

      They definitely could offer more money, but Netflix still carries more prestige in the humanitarian arena. I think it means more to be on the same platform as the Obamas.

      Netflix increases their credibility and completes their portfolio, and H & M join a club with similarly minded people. Win win.

    • Becks1 says:

      These are my thoughts too. Disney probably offered more money but I don’t think H&M wanted to get tied to the Disney machine just yet. They clearly respect Disney (see: Meghan doing the voiceover for Elephant) and might do work for Disney in the future, but I imagine it wasn’t the right fit for what they want to do right now.

      And yeah, Hastings sounds super pumped about this deal which tells me it is considered a huge “get” – which Sussex fans of course would assume, but its still nice to have that validated.

    • emu says:

      Disney is a pain control-wise and also I think they don’t have as many subscribers as Netflix (US wise at least)

    • LeaTheFrench says:

      Netflix is not that generous actually regarding creative control. Michaela Coel refused a deal with Netflix when she created I May Destroy You and went with the BBC instead because they gave her more freedom.

      • Babsorig says:

        Personally, I wouldn’t compare Netflix with BBC to be honest; like how much of a platform is the BBC worldwide (in terms of entertainment) compared to Netflix or Disney? I know BBC does news reporting but that’s about all I know about BBC. Anyways, my guess is the Sussexes’ target is more for North America and global and thus the choice for US based platforms like Netflix.

      • Jenna says:

        Agree with the sentiment, though Coel was looking to own her content. It probably doesn’t matter much for M & H to own what they do, as it’s a humanitarian-focused production deal.

        Also, just re: Babsorig, the BBC has quite a big profile – think about how well-known Planet Earth is, or even something like Fleabag, which sweeped awards season last year. BBC often partners with other broadcasters too, as in the case of Coel, where they partnered with HBO.

  2. Myra says:

    They’ve been really successful with their projects so far so I can’t wait to see what they bring out

    • Babsorig says:

      All the documentaries and projects that Prince Harry was involved in were hits. I have watched his documentaries (the ones available online) multiple times and I loved all of them. And the documentary that duchess Meghan did for the clean water project was really good too, so I believe the Sussexes know what they’re doing and I’m really pumped up. I cant wait to see their projects.

  3. Britt says:

    I can see why they’re mad. Did they really think America and the international globe would turn against them and bully them like the BM did? You had a couple who had style, determination, work ethic and a passion to be the best and because they didn’t invite you over for tea and hand over their son on a platter and some stupid hierarchy nonsense that William and Kate’s dull behinds has to be the star attraction, you made their lives hell. Look what it got you. Stuck with lawsuits and a set of boring royals that literally no one cares that much for. Richard Kay was practically grieved that Harry paid that money back because they realized it’s over. No more Fashions, no more pictures, no more gossips and leaks, no more international gigs etc. America will appreciate them and give them the peace they need because we may have our issues but fumbling the bag is not one.

    • TheOriginalMia says:

      All of this!

    • RoyalBlue says:

      Well said.

    • morrigan01 says:

      “America will appreciate them and give them the peace they need because we may have our issues but fumbling the bag is not one.”

      This a million times over. Yes, we in the US have our problems, and a capitalist society is in no way a utopia. However, the US media/media companies know a profit-making opportunity not only when they see it, but when it basically falls in their lap. Even the US tabloids know it.

      That’s one of the many reasons the US tabloids like TMZ haven’t been trying to pull any illegal stuff, like drone flying to take pictures. They are not going to fumble THIS bag the way the UK tabs did. They know things like harassing people who will being in that bag because they won’t sit down and have tea with you is laughably stupid.

  4. ABritGuest says:

    Reed seems very excited about this deal & the upcoming projects which is interesting. I wonder if they incorporate the work of their patronage’s at all. I would have loved looking at how the cookbook came together& how the Hubb ladies are rebuilding and launching own businesses etc with look at issues that resulted in Grenfell& fight for justice.

    I’m guessing an occasional 5am email and coming up with ideas won’t upset people and make headlines in this new area of work..

    • Edna says:

      “I’m guessing an occasional 5am email and coming up with ideas won’t upset people and make headlines in this new area of work..”

      😂😂😂😂😂. IKR

    • VS says:

      “I’m guessing an occasional 5am email and coming up with ideas won’t upset people and make headlines in this new area of work..” — bazinga!!! I love this; I wish we could “like” comments

    • Tasz says:

      @abritguest. Hahahaha perfect observation. 5am me, baby!

    • Babsorig says:

      “I’m guessing an occasional 5am email and coming up with ideas won’t upset people and make headlines in this new area of work..”

  5. Jen says:

    People are already spinning it as “no one wanted them; they had to go to multiple companies to get an offer.”

    Because yes. When I don’t want something, I always offer them $100,000,000.

  6. Edna says:

    I saw that video, and Reed Hastings looked as happy as a kid in a candy store. He was bursting with joy that Netflix landed Harry and Meghan (not the Duke &Duchess of Sussex). As Netflix is the current platform with the largest global reach, it makes sense H&M would sign with them. I’m all here for H&M global domination. Let the haters twist and spin in their own hate.

  7. Loretta says:

    Good for Harry and Meghan! I can’t wait to see their work.

  8. MsIam says:

    I think Netflix was the best fit for them, especially if they want to produce stories that could be considered controversial or political. If all they were going to do was nature docs then Disney may have been the right fit.

  9. Amy Bee says:

    You know the British press will criticise every show Harry and Meghan produces. I hope they do a documentary on Grenfell and the issues of austerity, poverty, immigration and racism that are linked to this case.

  10. Scorpio says:

    Kate: What are you looking for…??
    Will: Not here, Not here.. Where are they???
    Kate: What are you looking for?
    Will: Can’t find them!
    Kate: What?
    Will: My Ninjas
    Kate: Oh…em..
    Will: What?
    Kate: They Left with Harry…

    Harry: Evil laugh rubbing his hands

  11. Chelsea says:

    Watching Hastings’ happiness in this interview and hearing him compliment H&M’s smarts and talent made me feel so happy for Harry. Harry has been talked down about as stupid and naive for so long now in Britain and it must feel so good for him to be validated like this.

    Here’s the thing: Harry was never book smart and for a while there also seemed to lack common sense but he’s come a long way in the last few years and his charities are proof of it. I was recently watching his panel discussion from the Obama Foundation back in 2017 and was really impressed with the way he talked about his privilege as well as his understanding of the charitable sector and his recognition that charities work best when people with learned experience are the focal point and leaders and that it’s not his place as a rich prince to walk in assuming he knows everything and stomp his ideas on to people. He does his research and seems dedicated to his work so it’s nice to see that acknowledged and appreciated, especially by someone as powerful as this, and not framed as a threat that could “overshadow” someone else.

    • BnLurkN4eva says:

      Apparently Harry had a learning disability and speaking as someone who works with students with learning disabilities on the regular, they are just as book smart as other students. The trick is to understand their disability and for them to learn to work with it. I think once Harry learned how to manage his learning disability, there was no stopping him. His achievements in the military speaks for themselves and I think he’s demonstrated through his preparedness and the success of his various projects that he’s a smart guy. I really believe that together with Meghan, they are going to do great things after a few growing pains, which should be expected.

    • RoyalBlue says:

      that’s wonderful how he complimented their smarts and talent. I have not watched the interview, but thinking about it, when last has anyone ever complimented Willieleaks’ smarts and talents.

      I bet he is incandescent with rage,

  12. Jaded says:

    This makes the Cambridges look sooooo pathetic and removes every last excuse about the “celebrities aren’t interested in working with royals” comment William made. It just makes him and his mannequin of a wife look more useless and stupid than ever. So he flies to Belfast to take a meeting about mental health…big effing deal. Where was Waity? Oh right…being a CEO or polishing Williams turds or something.

    • Tealie says:

      Actually will said that to make himself look better and holier than thou, but the ultimate truth is celebrities once interested in working with HIM because of who he is as a person. With or without his royal status.

  13. Mariane says:

    I’m so happy for them. As I said before they’re now surpassing Diana’s popularity and impact. Harry’s talk about acknowledging the prejudice and wrongdoing particularly with British empire’s history is already making ripple effect and CW secretary Patricia Scotland has written a column in telegraph calling for dialogue & institutional changes and Jamaican has backed this.

    I also think that the Netflix deal is just one part of their lined up projects(I expect a podcast deal) I could see Meghan doing something nearer to the election date by perhaps reviving her Instagram account to post about voting. I think we’ll hear more about their production company around October+get updates about Archwell.