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10 executives who could lead the charge

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  • Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said the company is considering an ad-supported subscription tier.
  • Insider asked 7 ad industry experts who Netflix should hire to grow its ad business.
  • Sources have suggested media pundits like Scott Rosenberg and Jason Kilar or tech pros like Carolyn Everson.

netflix

CEO Reed Hastings shocked the media and advertising worlds on Tuesday when he said that after years of ad resistance and following its first loss of subscribers in years, the company would consider introducing a cheaper, ad-supported tier for its service.

The pivot comes as other major streamers, including


HBO Max

, Peacock, and soon to be Disney+, have launched ad-supported plans at lower prices to grow their subscriber bases. In fact, a Morning Consult survey from March found that a majority of respondents around the world – including those in key markets for Netflix like South Korea, the United States and India – preferred to subscribe to a low cost service.


Diffusion

ad-supported service over a more expensive ad-free service.

“Those who have followed Netflix will know that I have been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings said on a conference call. “But as much as I’m a fan of that, I’m a bigger fan of consumer choice.”

Hastings added that the company was in the early stages of reviewing the ad, telling investors it’s “something we’re looking at now, trying to figure out over the next year or two.”

An ad tier could require Netflix to overhaul its streaming platform, renegotiate its content rights, find new ways to work with brands, and build a team to facilitate ad sales. The company would need a seasoned executive to lead the operation.

Insider spoke to seven industry experts about the type of executive Netflix could seek to lead its foray into this new territory. Several said the tone of Hastings’ comments revealed how early the company was in the R&D process. And the company does not currently list any advertising-related positions on its job board.

But looking ahead, these sources said Netflix may hire a media executive who has experience building a premier streaming advertising business. Referenced Hastings


Hulu

twice during his earnings remarks, which suggests he’s been keeping tabs on how the streaming pioneer has integrated advertising.

“If you really want to do it right, you want to bring Jason Kilar and his entire publicity team over from the original Hulu,” said Rich Greenfield, media analyst at LightShed. “The whole team is seated and available as we speak.” Berna Barshay of Empire Financial Research agrees, saying, “It’s clear this cohort knows what it takes to create an ad-supported tier.”

Insiders have suggested that Netflix could turn to executives in the advertising and tech industries instead — people like outgoing Roku platform boss Scott Rosenberg, ex-Facebook executive Carolyn Everson, or Snap’s chief commercial officer, Jeremi Gorman. Or he might seek more of a sales veteran — someone like Snap’s Peter Naylor or the recently deceased Jean-Paul Colaco, WarnerMedia’s advertising sales manager — who has established relationships with top advertisers.

International experience would be a plus, given that the markets where Netflix could benefit the most from a cheaper ad-supported tier are outside of the United States, in places like India.

Hastings also suggested on Tuesday that the company might consider outsourcing much of the advertising sales work. “We can be a simple editor and have other people do all the fancy ad matching and bring in all the people data,” he said, adding that it would allow Netflix to “really focus on our members”.

Barshay expects Netflix to eventually seek a framework that has a proven track record of prioritizing storytelling and customer experience over ads. “It will be a balance between customer experience and respecting storytelling, while maximizing monetization,” Barshay said. “One of the things that Netflix has always been so good at is working with talent, and if there are any concerns around that idea of ​​ad load, someone on the media side could be more nuanced to balance these competing interests.

Here are 10 media and advertising leaders who could be potential candidates to lead Netflix’s advertising business once the company sets out its core strategy.