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  • Lawrence Ng

Making the Cut – Todd Yellin, Vice President, Product, Netflix

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

What does escaping with Tibetan refugees have to do with revolutionising TV? Taking risks, something that Netflix’s vice president of product embraces as he learns what people want to watch on the streaming service. The greatest risk, however, is tricking his wife (who’s not so keen on superheroes) into watching Marvel’s Jessica Jones.

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Transcription: You would say to Netflix something is to get complete control as a consumer and how you want to watch your TV when you want to watch it. Now the question is, when you’re in a bad mood and you’re grumpy, do you want to watch something that’s all happy? It depends on the person, some people want to be uplifted like, I’d rather watch something happy, some people want to watch something more miserable. We don’t ask them what they like because what we can do is we can watch how millions of people around the world watch TV and based on that, when everything else we know about their viewing behavior we can help people find something great to watch. Alright, this is really sneaky so hopefully my wife doesn’t see this but this is what I did. I like superheroes, my wife doesn’t like anything with superheroes so what I told her is there’s this new drama on Netflix, it’s about a woman private investigator, I didn’t tell her it’s superheroes, so let’s watch it. By the time she realized all the special powers of Jessica Jones, she was hooked. We are a very lean forward company that’s willing to take a lot of risks to just change how the industry is done. At one time I was a documentary filmmaker, I was trying to follow Tibetan refugees escaping from Chinese control to Tibet over the Himalayas and I didn’t speak any Tibetan. So, what is escaping with Tibetan refugees over the high Himalayas have to do with revolutionising TV? You need thick skin for both. I am a huge fan of Black Mirror. Minute for minute, it is the most imaginative TV show I’ve ever seen. What it’s about is it’s not only rich imagination and it’s brilliant. It’s a little dark, it’s like The Twilight Zone for the 21st century. Should I talk more about it? I’m happy to, I love the show.

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