Bela Bajaria Joins Netflix as VP Content

Bela Bajaria - Publicity - P 2016

Four months after she was ousted as president at Universal Television, Bela Bajaria is headed for Netflix.

The well-liked executive has boarded the streaming giant as vp content, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

In her new role, Bejaria — who begins Nov. 1 and replaces vp global television Sean Carey — will lead the team focused on TV and film licensing from U.S. studios as well as co-production relationships with U.S. networks. She also will oversee a new team charged with developing original unscripted programs for Netflix. Bajaria will report directly to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Her role is completely separate from vp original content Cindy Holland's department. 

"Bela is a great creative television executive with broad experience and deep industry relationships,” Sarandos said Wednesday in a statement. "Having worked closely with her on Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, we know we have found the perfect executive to lead this new effort."

The move comes as Netflix is refining its content licensing deals and moving away from traditional ownership into co-production and development partnerships with studios and networks. The streaming giant boarded CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery series and did the same with TNT's The Alienist, which hails from Paramount TV, as well as ABC's Designated Survivor, which is produced by Entertainment One. The move allows Netflix to share global windows for popular series with their original broadcasters, ensuring early financing on pricey projects. The strategy bolsters Netflix's original scripted series, films and comedy specials.

"I am looking forward to joining Netflix, an innovative company that supports creative vision and fosters risk-taking," said Bajaria, who developed Netflix's upcoming Gypsy starring Naomi Watts, as well as Master of None and was instrumental in moving The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Netflix after NBC passed on the straight-to-series Ellie Kemper starrer. "Having worked closely with Ted, Cindy and the team, I know they are great creative partners and care deeply about the experience of talent, their partners and their members. They are a dynamic group and I’m looking forward to continue building new partnerships at Netflix with amazing talent and studio and network colleagues."

For Bajaria, the role comes four months after she was ousted as head of NBCUniversal-owned Universal Television for what insiders say was a failure to supply homegrown content to NBC in an era of vertical integration where ownership and stacking rights have increased importance to the bottom line.  

In Bajaria, Netflix gains a well-connected executive who is deeply familiar with the studio system after five years at Universal, and before that, CBS Television Studios, where she created the cable division. In addition to the host of Netflix shows from UTV, Bajaria also developed Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fox/Hulu's The Mindy Project, NBC's Superstore, CBS' Pure Genius, A&E's Bates Motel and more.