Internal strife at Netflix, HBO Max numbers, IATSE contract still needs to be ratified

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Netflix continues to do damage control following the release of its Dave Chappelle comedy special “The Closer.” This week, trans employees of the streamer staged a walkout. Photo by Shutterstock.

There’s continued unrest at Netflix following the release of the Dave Chappelle comedy special “The Closer,” which includes material that’s been widely labeled transphobic and homophobic. This week, trans Netflix employees and allies staged a walkout and demanded the streamer invest more in content from trans creators. They are not asking Netflix to remove “The Closer,” but they want the company to hire more trans employees in leadership roles and to add a disclaimer to transphobic content. 

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos struck a conciliatory tone and said that he “screwed up” when he wrote in a memo that on-screen content does not impact the real world. Sarandos had previously been strident in the face of employee pushback, saying that he’d be standing by Chappelle and citing how popular his specials were with Netflix viewers. 

This has been a seminal moment inside Netflix. The company claims to be built on transparency and trust, and historically has had very few leaks. But some employees were so upset over the company’s defense of “The Closer” that they leaked sensitive financial information to Lucas Shaw at Bloomberg

All this internal conflict has not affected the business side of things. The streamer said in an earnings report this week that it has now surpassed 213 million global subscribers. 

In other streaming news, HBO Max also released new numbers this week. The WarnerMedia streamer took a hit when it removed the HBO subscription option from Amazon Prime Channels in September, but showed strong international growth, gaining almost 2 million subscribers in that sector. All eyes are now on what the steamer will do when Discovery takes over next year. It’s possible the streaming service Discovery+ will get folded into HBO Max, or the two will be offered together as a bundle. 

Finally, in labor news, IATSE was ready to strike, but the leadership of Hollywood’s massive below-the-line union was able to make a deal with the studios just under the wire. However, that contract still needs to be ratified by IATSE membership. There’s been dissension on social media, with some members saying the contract doesn’t go far enough in providing reasonable rest and wage increases. If they don’t ratify the contract, they’ll go back to the bargaining table and risk losing whatever gains they were able to previously negotiate.

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