Netflix announced in May that the company had hired Barack and Michelle Obama to produce shows and films as part of a multi-year deal. Well, it didn’t take long for the video streaming service to learn the hard way that the move to bring the Obamas on board was a disastrous mistake. Now, two months later, Netflix has gotten the last news they ever expected.
Barack and Michelle Obama have entered a multiyear agreement to produce new films and shows with Netflix. The former president and first lady are “determined to produce a diverse mix of content, including a potential scripted series, an unscripted series, a docu-series, documentaries, and features,” according to a press release from Netflix about the deal.
According to Fox News, the streaming service revealed the projects will be available to their 125 million members in 190 countries and the couple established Higher Ground Productions, which will serve as the entity under which they will produce content for Netflix.
“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” Mr. Obama in a statement. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”
Michelle said the couple’s willingness to pursue filming after their time in the White House was a no-brainer. “Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” she said. “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the streaming service is thrilled to have the Obamas as part of their creative team and are eager to see what the couple has to offer for viewers. “Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” explained Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”
Despite all of the hoopla, however, it doesn’t appear that hiring the Obamas was the best business decision Netflix could have made. Within hours of the announcement, fed-up Americans who are tired of being bombarded by the Obamas at every turn had taken to social media to launch a boycott of Netflix. And now, the company has received even more terrible news.
Netflix informed its shareholders this week that it signed up 5.2 million subscribers in the second quarter of this year. But compared with the previous two fiscal quarters, 5.2 million is a big drop. By comparison, in the first quarter of this year, it signed up 7.4 million subscribers. And the 5.2 million number is also well below the company’s projection of 6.2 million subscribers for the quarter. In fact, the company has never fallen this far short of a quarterly subscription target.
Netflix surely thought that by signing the Obamas they’d be able to bag even more subscribers, but it appears that the company was banking on the premise that the couple still enjoyed wide-spread popularity, and that just simply isn’t the case.