Netflix now takes on Hollywood in court

Hollywood has much to fear from video streaming giant Netflix. Now that Netflix is encroaching on its territory at the Oscars, there is a tectonic shift that is about to occur in the television industry as well.

Netflix currently streams close to 300 original shows on its platform that is more than the collective shows aired on television. In close to four years, Netflix has steamrolled over its television syndicated counterparts with close to 75% of American households now choosing the online platform to gain their entertainment.

While some say that this change has occurred because of their competitive pricing as compared to other television platforms, others say that this is primarily because of a wide variety of shows it has on its platform which cannot be available elsewhere.

But it seems that the nightmare for television studios in Hollywood are just beginning. Besides seeing a rapid decline in viewership, they are also facing problems with their top employees who are now jumping ship to join various streaming platforms.

The most notable case of this phenomenon that has come to the fore is Tara Flynn’s move from Fox 21 to Netflix. This case has made the headlines because Netflix, on behalf of Flynn, is now taking Fox 21 to court to argue the semantics of her job change.

The basic point of contention is this: Flynn left Fox 21 and joined Netflix in 2016 but she had signed a four-year deal with the former in 2015. While Fox claims that her job change is a breach of contract, Flynn says that her tenure at Fox was overshadowed by ‘bullying and an extremely hostile environment’.

In her six-year tenure at Fox 21, which is a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, she rain point on some of its most successful syndicated shows including Homeland and Americans. But her biggest bone to pick with Fox was that she was not paid equally as her male counterparts. And in some cases, she was even paid less than her subordinates.

When Flynn broached the subject of a pay increment with her boss, Fox 21 president Bert Salke, husband of Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, she said she was not only rebuffed but also had to face mental harassment from his end.  Salke was also the one who had recruited her from ABC Studios where she was employed before joining Fox 21 in 2010.

However, Salke had refused to let her out of her contract when she broached the subject of leaving in 2016. But Flynn clarified that she was not asking for permission but only informing him of her decision. Needless to say that Falke was not happy with her decision of joining Netflix as their director of programming. He went on to say to her that “Netflix was public enemy number one.”

Things took a turn for the worse when Fox sent a cease-and-desist letter to Netflix over Flynn’s move. When the streamer refused to act on this warning, Fox chose to sue the streaming giant for their move. Netflix counter-sued Fox by saying that their contracts were hindering the emotional and career growth of their employees.

It is said that Flynn’s case will potentially make Hollywood and television studios to take a hard look at their current hiring practices and employee contracts. Even their practice of talent holding contracts may come under the microscope.

This move by Netflix shows its commitment to providing the best entertainment to their customers. Flynn is not the first employee to lash out against the burgeoning system of Hollywood and television systems. Other senior-level employees from Fox have made similar claims in the past as well.

Netflix currently streams in over 200 countries and has close to 139 million paying customers.

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