Netflix Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the platform's hit original series "Stranger Things" could have been a couple of episodes longer had it not been for added costs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The streaming service's executive explained that season four of "Stranger Things," which was released in two parts on May 27 and July 1, was more impacted financially than many of the platform's other shows.
The pandemic costs wound up being about 5/10% of Netflix's content spend on average. In 2022, Netflix is spending around $18 billion on content, up from last year's sum of $17 billion.
"If you did that all again and took that off the top you might even get a couple of extra episodes out of it," Sarandos said of "Stranger Things," according to Deadline.
COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on Netflix’s popular drama horror series, but the show still was credited with the platform not losing a greater haul of subscribers.
The series' two-part split forced fans to stick around until the final two episodes were released in early July, and viewership data shows subscribers tuned in throughout the series, as season four surpassed one billion hours streamed.
Netflix had projected a loss of 2 million subscribers in the second quarter, but the earnings released on Tuesday reveal the streaming giant only suffered a decline of 970,000 subscribers.
Sarandos attributed the high cost of "Stranger Things" to multiple factors, including the various locations used in production and having to postpone operations at times due to pandemic restrictions.
"[Stranger Things] was probably affected as any [by COVID-19] because of the young cast and the size and scope of the production and the multiple locations that we shot in," Sarandos said.
"It was a very expensive burden on the show to make sure that we could deliver it," he continued. "One of the catalysts of splitting the season was how long it took to produce that show and a lot of that was stalled because of early shutdowns of the production and being extremely careful with the cast of the show, early on in COVID."