Tagged: Netflix

Interview: Bill Nye takes us inside season 3 of his geektastic Netflix series

Bill Nye is a celebrity scientist who doesn’t so much act like the celebrity part. Or rather, who doesn’t seem to care about the celebrity part.

I’ve interviewed some of his peers like Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example, who can take almost any question you give him and patiently work it into an opportunity. Something that, by the end of an answer from him that’s turned into an inspired soliloquy, will have you thinking about your place in the world, wondering what’s up there, excited about the mysteries of the universe.

That’s not Bill Nye, the third season of whose TV series “Bill Nye Saves the World” is now streaming on Netflix. Bill is the kind of interview subject who, if he was confronted by an anti-vaxxer, you could imagine those bushy eyebrows sinking as he frowns and simply snaps: “You’re an idiot. This conversation is over. Done-zo!”

To be sure, this is not an attempt to pass some kind of judgement that he’s unlikeable or insufferable in his advocacy of causes like spreading awareness about climate change. You can find plenty of that on the web. And criticism, specifically, of his Netflix series. That he tries too hard to be funny. That he can be overbearing.

Those are judgements for someone else to make. These, instead, are the facts of the matter, based on talking with the man: Netflix has renewed a series starring Nye for a third season. He wears bow ties. He loves science. And he doesn’t have much patience for people who don’t likewise love science — or at least appreciate it.

I asked him, for example, what he thinks people can do to bring more of a scientific awareness to how they understand and interact with the world. Which is really the backdrop of “Bill Nye Saves the World” and which in the new season tackles topics like addiction and aging.


Bill himself points to episode 4 — “Recipes from the Future” — as particularly cool and about something he’s interested in. The human population, how big it’s getting and how we have to keep finding new ways to farm.

From the Netflix boilerplate just underneath the “Play” button on the show’s page in the app: “Emmy-winning host Bill Nye brings experts and famous guests to his lab for a talk show exploring scientific issues that touch our lives.” That’s just what you get again this time around for the show, with season three guests that include model Karlie Kloss and comedians Margaret Cho, Maria Bamford and Paul F. Tompkins.

What you get with Bill the man, meanwhile, is a kind of professorial vibe. The feeling that any minute now he’s going to instruct you to close your books and take out a sheet of paper.

In response to my question about what people can do to incorporate more science into their understanding of the world, for example, it was like I’d pressed a button.

“Get vaccinated. Let’s start there,” Nye said. “If you’re not vaccinated, you’re endangering me. Because your body becomes a petri dish for a mutation of a disease that we’ve already beaten So do that. Then I tell everybody — vote. Vote. If you have doubts about climate change, do some research on it and you’ll find it’s a serious problem caused by humans.

“The thing that’s been on my mind is the kids, the students at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. It was a tragedy. It was awful. However, the kids that emerged from that tragedy are passionate, and they’re going to make changes. I just think when the next large block, cohort of voters — young people — outnumbers the old people, things will change very quickly. I think you’ll see climate change being addressed, ground transportation being addressed. Fairness to people of different ancestries. All this will be addressed very quickly in the scheme of things.”

That’s the kind of thing you get with Bill. Not much adornment in how he presents his view about the world — again, which is not a criticism. It may be that his detractors are used to a certain kind of persona.

I asked him why he wanted to do a Netflix show at all. “I wanted to save the world!” he answered.

He didn’t laugh or correct himself.

“The world’s going to be here no matter what we do. I want to save the world for ME. For humans. The Earth will be here no matter what happens. But I want it to be as high quality of a life for as many billions of us as we can manage.

“I want everybody to have a view akin to that of those who we attribute to the Enlightenment. A time when people started using reason and rational thought to make decisions about how to govern their society. I want everybody to think scientifically about everything. Not saying we want everybody to be a scientist. I want everybody to have a level of scientific literacy that enables him or her to evaluate evidence and use discoveries made through the process of science to run their life.”

In bidding him goodbye, Bill told me thank you and to carry on. And then he shouted “Let’s save the world!”

Netflix’s subscriber base could still have a long way to grow

Netflix’s most recent earnings report was impressive, to say the least. Not only did revenue jump by an astounding 43%, the streaming giant was able to add 7.4 million new subscribers during the March quarter alone, easily besting the most optimistic of projections from Wall Street analysts. Consequently, Netflix shares immediately shot up and the stock is now 25% higher than it was three months ago.

Thanks to the company’s unparalleled obsession with churning out original content, Netflix has seen its subscriber base rise dramatically over the past few years. According to the most recent figures, Netflix’s worldwide subscriber base now stands at 125 million. As a point of reference, Netflix at the end of 2014 had 57.4 million subscribers.

As impressive as Netflix’s subscriber growth has been over the past few years, the company has a lot more room to grow according to a new investor note from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Nat Schindler.

In remarks picked up by CNBC, Schindler believes that Netflix’s subscriber base has the potential to swell to 360 million users by 2030.

“We believe Netflix still has a considerable opportunity ahead if it can achieve reasonable penetration levels internationally,” Schindler said. “Netflix will face varying levels of competition, regulation and economic conditions in each individual market it participates in, but its content scale should allow it to become the dominant streaming player in virtually all markets.”

To be fair, the idea of making a prediction about the tech space 12 years out seems rather foolish. After all, 12 years in the tech world is nothing short of an eternity. As a prime example, the first iPhone was still in development 12 years ago and the original Tesla Roadster hadn’t even been unveiled yet. Still, the larger takeaway here is that Netflix, despite the tremendous success it has enjoyed already, still has plenty of room left to grow.

How Netflix uses analytics to help develop hit TV shows

More so than any other media entity today, Netflix is downright obsessed with original programming. Hardly a secret, the streaming giant has been rather forthright about its plans to make half of its streaming catalog consist of Netflix originals in just a few years time.

“We’ve been on a multiyear transition and evolution toward more of our own content,” Netflix CFO David Wells said back in 2016. At the time, Wells divulged that approximately one-third of Netflix’s library was comprised of original content, a figure which has likely risen considerably since then. Indeed, Netflix’s laser-like focus on developing and acquiring exclusive content is why the company plans on spending upwards of $8 billion on content in 2018 alone.

More recently, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said that the company plans to have 1,000 original titles on the service before 2019. That being the case, one can only wonder how Netflix decides what shows to develop and acquire, not to mention which Hollywood writers are worth striking deals with.

Touching on this very issue, Sarandos recently explained that Netflix’s treasure trove of internal data is what helped it land a blockbuster $300 million deal with Ryan Murphy, the mastermind behind shows like Glee and American Horror Story.

CNBC reports:

You might guess, from a bunch of other shows, who might like ‘American Horror Story.’ I bet you wouldn’t guess that people who like ‘Bob’s Burgers’ like ‘American Horror Story,'” Sarandos said. “And it’s that thread of humor that he threads through all his stuff that actually gives us the ability to broaden his audience beyond a single network.”

Netflix data, Google trends and social media all help in determining logistics and budgeting, while the creative direction is still based on “believing in the storyteller,” he said.

Interestingly enough, there’s a famous story which describes Netflix’s line of reasoning back when they decided to green-light House of Cards, a show which arguably put Netflix Originals on the map. As the story goes, Netflix observed that there was an interesting overlap between Kevin Spacey fans, viewers who enjoyed the original House of Cards on the BBC and movies directed David Fincher. Consequently, it was a no-brainer from Netflix’s perspective to pull the trigger on buying a House of Cards remake.

For those interested, a fascinating run-down of how Netflix employs analytics to map out user viewing habits can be seen here.

Netflix will have 1,000 original shows and movies by the end of 2018

Catching up on all of Netflix’s original content is about to become an impossible task as the service’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said on Monday that around 1,000 originals will be streaming by the end of the year.

Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit 2018 in New York on Monday, Sarandos said that 85% of new spending will go toward original content in 2018. In total, the company expects to spend $8 billion this year, though he wouldn’t specify the exact amount for originals versus licensed content.

That 1,000 number is obviously the highlight of the talk, but what’s especially striking is that 470 of those originals will debut between now and the end of 2018. To put that into perspective, nearly half of all original content on the most popular video streaming service in the world will roll out in the next seven months.

“The creators we’re talking to, they watch Netflix and they want to be on our network,” said the CCO. “It’s a great time to be a producer, that’s for sure.” He also noted that “the way we can secure those shows is having a great reputation with talent, having a brand people want to be associated with, and a good track record of delivering.”

Plenty of content has already been announced for the coming days and weeks (May’s lineup of new content is right here), but Sarandos revealed during his talk that 80 movies will hit Netflix this year, including cheap indie films and big blockbusters like Bright. Sarandos also said that he was surprised it took so long for other companies like Disney to jump into the streaming business, and said that Netflix still has no plans for live sports or news.

The 10 best new movies and TV shows coming to Netflix in May

Just as the sun begins to peek out from behind the clouds and warm weather becomes a consistent presence rather than a nice surprise, Netflix decides to drop dozens of new original shows and movies on us. May looks to be one of the busiest months of the year for Netflix, so we’re all going to have to delay our plans to go outside.

While there are a few TV shows that deserve to be on this monthly top ten list (and are), the movies are actually just as interesting, if not more so, in the coming weeks. We have a zombie drama called Cargo starring Martin Freeman of The Office and The Hobbit, a techno-thriller about anonymity and hacking called Anon, and a bevy of third-party hits like Amelie, The Bourne Ultimatum, Coco and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

There are also some comedy specials and TV shows that sneaked on to the list, but the fourth season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is easily my personal most anticipated piece of content coming to Netflix in May:

Now that you’ve seen the best, be sure to take a look at the rest — here’s the full list of everything that will be added to Netflix’s catalog this month. And here’s the full list of everything that will be removed from Netflix in May, in case you want to watch these shows and movies before they expire.