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Netflix's woes could be traced back to Insatiable, "Walmart-ization" and the ouster of key executive Cindy Holland

  • Holland was Ted Sarandos' first hire when he opened a little office in Hollywood in 2002 to begin Netflix's foray into streaming. In September 2020, Holland was ousted after 18 years shortly after Sarandos was named Netflix's co-CEO and Bela Bajaria was named the sole head of Netflix's TV efforts. "Important multihyphenates who work or have worked with Netflix say it was Holland rather than Ted Sarandos, then chief content officer, who gave Netflix its profile as a home to buzzy, quality shows," reports The Hollywood Reporter's Kim Masters. As one person put it: “That service was built on the back of Cindy Holland’s taste. I could give you a list of names of people who would lie down on railroad tracks for her. Ted is a fan (of content), not a picker. He’s a cheerleader and a good cheerleader, to a degree.” But Holland had a "spendy approach" to ordering TV shows and Sarandos realized that to compete without Friends or The Office, Netflix had to ramp up the number of TV shows it offered. Another key moment in Netflix history was ordering Insatiable. Masters reports that Holland passed on the controversial series that The CW previously rejected. But Bajaria opted to order Insatiable. One prominent Netflix supplier calls Bajaria’s decision “the beginning of the Walmart-ization” of the streamer. “It’s called Insatiable-gate within the halls of Netflix,” this source says. “It gave the power of greenlight to several people. It caused absolute demoralization and chaos. Everybody thought it was a terrible thing Ted did, allowing one team to greenlight something that another team had passed on.” Meanwhile, Masters reports Netflix executives began to worry about the burgeoning number of shows. “It was, ‘Hey, guys, do we think this is enough? Because we are cannibalizing our own sh*t,'” says a former insider. Holland shared the same concern, worrying about the lack of curation and quality control. An insider tells Masters that the response was that things would work out fine if maybe one in 10 shows worked. In the end, Sarandos decided to go with Bajaria and oust Holland.

    TOPICS: Insatiable, Netflix, Bela Bajaria, Cindy Holland, Ted Sarandos