Netflix Sponsors Summer Party Of UK’s Spectator Magazine

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Netflix was one of the key sponsors of UK magazine The Spectator‘s summer party last week.

The well-timed and buzzy London event — which came amid the stormy unseating of Boris Johnson as PM — was attended by a number of leading figures in the UK political and media landscape.

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Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos was at the event, which formed part of a UK charm offensive. That offensive included an event at BAFTA to celebrate the charity’s Bafta Breakthrough program, also sponsored by the streamer. The studio is celebrating 10 years in the UK.

Among politicians to have attended The Spectator‘s bash were former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the frontrunner to replace Johnson as UK leader, current Chancellor and another PM hopeful Nadhim Zahawi, former Cabinet minister Michael Gove, Tory MP Tom Tugendhat (yet another contender to be the next PM) and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Also among attendees were Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel Johnson, who hosts a radio phone-in, artist and broadcaster Grayson Perry, Channel 4 boss Alex Mahon, and media big beasts Nick Robinson, Laura Kuenssberg, Andrew Marr and Andrew Neil. Sarandos was snapped smiling with Zahawi and Channel 4 presenter Neil, who is also chair of The Spectator. 

Netflix has been keen not to express a political agenda as an organization, so the sponsoring of The Spectator‘s bash has raised some eyebrows. The storied weekly magazine (founded in 1828) does include culture and arts sections but is best known for its political commentary and its conservative bent. Editorship of The Spectator has often been a step on the ladder to high office in the right wing Conservative Party with past editors including Boris Johnson, Iain Gilmour, Iain Macleod and Nigel Lawson. The publication is owned by Frederick Barclay, who also owns The Daily Telegraph newspaper, via Press Holdings.

We understand Netflix displayed promotion for a number of its series and films at the event, but given the influential guest list it was also likely a play at currying favor among the movers and shakers in the UK establishment.

Netflix has previously sponsored events in the UK for fashion magazine Vogue, centre-right newspaper The Evening Standard and the Oxford Literary Festival.

In the U.S., according to a 2020 report on the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets website, among the 17 U.S. tech companies valued at $100BN or more, employees at Netflix are the most liberal based on fundraising data, with 98% of their donations going to Democrats. Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings has personally made major contributions to Democrat political campaigns while co-CEO Ted Sarandos held a major fundraiser for former president Obama.

Netflix declined to comment for this story.

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