Hollywood Radio and Television Society to Honor Netflix’s Bela Bajaria

The Hollywood Radio and Television Society (HRTS) on Oct. 3 announced it will honor Bela Bajaria, head of Global TV at Netflix, at its 75th Anniversary Gala, which will be held Dec. 7 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The gala benefits the newly formed HRTS Foundation. 

“We are delighted to highlight Bela’s work and the impact she’s had on the industry and on HRTS. She’s broken down barriers and created meaningful pathways for increased diversity and representation in front of and behind the camera,” said Odetta Watkins, HRTS board president, HRTS Foundation board member and head of Drama Series, Amazon Studios. “She consistently utilizes her success to open doors for the next generation of leaders.” 

The HRTS Foundation’s first initiative is the HRTS Foundation Fellowship Program, which matches HRTS Fellows with an HRTS executive “sponsor.” The sponsor will provide support, guidance and introductions to people, companies and inner workings of the TV and entertainment industry. Fellows will also receive a guaranteed spot in the HRTS Mentorship Program and membership.  The inaugural sponsors of the HRTS Foundation include Lionsgate, Netflix, Universal Studios and Weintraub Tobin. The HRTS Foundation will announce and introduce the first class of HRTS Fellows at the gala. Applications for The HRTS Fellowship Program will be accepted until Oct. 15, 2022 on the HRTS website.

Bajaria was named head of Global TV for Netflix in 2020. She oversees all scripted and unscripted series around the world. Bajaria and her team are responsible for such hit series as “Squid Game,” “Bridgerton,” “The Witcher,” “La Casa De Papel,” “Never Have I Ever,” “Cobra Kai,” “Lupin” and “Indian Matchmaking.”

Prior to joining Netflix in 2016, Bajaria was president of Universal Television. Earlier, she held two key posts simultaneously: SVP of cable programming for CBS TV Studios, and SVP of movies and miniseries for CBS Network.

Bajaria was the first person of color, and the second woman, to serve as president of HRTS. She has been honored by as one of Media Play News‘ top Women in Home Entertainment, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Entertainment list, Variety’s LA Women’s Impact Report, Time‘s 100 Most Influential People of 2022 and Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in 2020 and 2021. 

Netflix Bosses Say Series Cancellations on Par With Industry Standards

Netflix has gained a reputation in recent years for pulling the plug on a higher number of original series compared with other streamers and TV networks. Speaking Nov. 11 at the 25th annual Paley Center International Council Summit, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and Bela Bajaria, head of global TV, called the characterization misleading as the streamer goes to market with full first-seasons compared with pilots at the networks.

Bajaria said Netflix’s original program legacy offering all episodes of series upfront lends itself to determining whether a program has legs to run beyond the first season. Bajaria did not reveal the analysis involved in determining when a show gets cut.

“It’s always painful to cancel a show, and nobody wants to do that,” she said.

The streamer this year decided not to greenlight second seasons of space drama “Away,” “Teenage Bounty Hunters,” “Spinning Out,” “AJ and the Queen,” “Messiah,” “Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love,” “October Faction,” “V Wars,” “I Am Not Okay With This” and “The Society,” among others

Meanwhile, Netflix ordered a second season of “Emily in Paris,” the former Paramount content licensed to Netflix over the summer. It ranks among Netflix’s Top 10 streamed shows, according to Nielsen. It also approved a third season of superhero show “The Umbrella Academy,” and a second second season of “Raising Dion,” about a widowed mom who sets out to solve the mystery surrounding her young son’s emerging superpowers while keeping his extraordinary gift under wraps.

“We actually have a renewal rate of 67%, which is [the] industry standard,” Bajaria said.  “You have to look at ‘The Crown,’ with season four launching now, ‘Grace & Frankie’ and ‘The Ranch,’ we’ve had long-running shows and we’re always going to have a mix that are great to be told in a limited series form and shows that go on for multiple seasons.”

Sarandos contends that Netflix’s high profile results in news being made whenever the streamer cancels a program. The veteran CCO said the old TV business model of hoping a series reached 100 episodes or four seasons to qualify for syndication are over.

“I think many shows can be a success for being exactly what they are and you could tell that story in two seasons or one season or five seasons,” Sarandos said. “I think it gets talked about so much because [we are] measured against the old way of doing things.”

Netflix Hires TV Executive Nne Ebong

Netflix Nov. 9 announced the hiring of veteran TV executive Nne Ebong as VP of overall deals and original series. Ebong is the newest hire by Bela Bajaria, head of global TV at the SVOD pioneer, who replaced longtime executive Cindy Holland over the summer.

Ebong joins Brian Wright, VP of original series, with the two overseeing Netflix’s high-profile TV producers Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil, Liz Feldman, Shawn Levy and the Duffer Brothers, among others.

Ebong previously headed creative at Wiip, the indie U.S. television studio headed by former BBC executive and ABC network entertainment president Paul Lee. Indeed, Ebong also held an executive position at ABC Studios as SVP of drama development.

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She oversaw programs such as Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” “American Crime,” “Designated Survivor,” “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge.” Ebong joined ABC Studios in 2006 overseeing series such as “Lost,” “Brothers & Sisters” and “The Ghost Whisperer.”


Netflix’s Bela Bajaria Makes More Management Changes

Netflix’s Bela Bajaria, the recently promoted head of global TV, has been busy making inhouse management changes under the guise of co-CEO Ted Sarandos, to whom she reports.

Bajaria is looking to meld English-language content and non-English content departments under her control into a unified global team, resulting in myriad department redeployments and the reduction of 10 staffers below the VP level. To that end, she has combined young adult/family series production with drama and comedy, according to Deadline, which first reported the changes.

Bela Bajaria and Ted Sarandos

As a result, Brian Wright, former head of young adult/family group, now spearheads a new “overall deals” department. Jinny Howe and Renate Radford head the drama team, while Peter Friedlander, former boss of genre and thrillers, now oversees a new spectacle/event unit separate from drama and comedy.

With Bajaria’s promotion over the summer, and the departure of longtime Netflix executive Cindy Holland, VP of original content, there have been numerous executive exits. Channing Dungey, VP of original series and head of drama, left to become chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group. Jane Wiseman, VP of original series and head of comedy, left earlier in October, while Nina Wolarsky, VP of drama, is leaving.

In a statement, Bajaria said that Netflix has been successful expanding local original content worldwide, including in the United States. She cited the international success of local-language series, including Germany’s “Barbarians” and Mexico’s “Dark Desire,” as examples of expanding viewership bases.

“One of the first things I did when I came into my role overseeing non-English language content in the last year was banish the word ‘international’ — because I wanted to erase this idea that there is U.S. content and ‘international’ content,” Bajaria said. “All content is local for our members, and sometimes they want to watch in a language other than their own, which Netflix makes incredibly easy and satisfying. We have strong, robust slates launching next year in many languages and in many countries for our members to enjoy.”

Cindy Holland Exiting Netflix; Bela Bajaria Upped to Global Head of TV

Veteran executive Cindy Holland, who as VP of original content helped spearhead Netflix’s meteoric rise for 18 years, is leaving the service. Bela Bajaria, who has led Netflix foreign-language content operations, has been named global head of television.

The executive changes come as Ted Sarandos expands his duties from chief content officer to include co-CEO responsibilities with Reed Hastings.

“Since becoming co-CEO, I’ve wanted to simplify the way our content teams operate — with one global film team led by Scott Stuber and one for TV, which will now be led by Bela Bajaria,” co-CEO and CCO Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “Since joining Netflix in 2016, Bela has demonstrated her versatility and creativity — building out our unscripted team and helping to take our local language slate, which is increasingly important for our members, to the next level. I can’t wait to see what Bela and the TV team achieve in the years to come.”

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Holland, who joined Netflix in 2002 leading the company’s signature by-mail DVD rental business, has been key to the streamer’s move into original content. She helped launch originals such as “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” “Ozark” and “Narcos,” as well as unscripted and documentary programming, including “Making a Murderer” and “Chef’s Table.”

In a statement, Holland said she enjoyed her time at Netflix, including transitioning the company from DVDs into streaming, to launching the first slate of original series and documentaries.

“I’ve loved every moment,” Holland said. “I am proud of the impact and the diversity of the stories we’ve brought to audiences around the world, and to have worked with some of the most inspiring creators and executives in our business.”