Barack Obama is coming to a Netflix screen near you
Like Jeremy Clarkson, former president Barack Obama will soon have his own show on streaming-only channels. One key difference (of the many) between the two men is that Obama will be heading to Netflix rather than Amazon Prime.
“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” Obama said in a statement. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”
Anyone hoping for the former president to use the new platform to openly attack the current incumbent of the White House will be disappointed, according to those familiar with the negotiations. Instead, Obama is likely to use the show to “highlight inspirational stories”.
The aforementioned New York Times report from March reveals a couple of format ideas – one involves Obama moderating debates on issues which divided the American public during his presidency, with everything from health care to climate change up for grabs. Another idea has Michelle Obama discussing topics such as nutrition – something she was keen on promoting in her spell as first lady. Finally, the couple could provide their brand to shows which “align with their beliefs and values.”
While the former president is hardly short of offers after turning in the keys to the White House (Apple and Amazon were also rumoured to be interested in a similar deal), Netflix provides a unique opportunity to reach people in a way that other networks can’t. And given Obama’s increasing frustration with the way partisan news outlets and social media distorts facts and the very terms of debate, being able to communicate directly with an audience of some 49 million Americans is likely something which appeals. “As long as it’s on Facebook, and people can see it, as long as it’s on social media, people start believing it, and it creates this dust cloud of nonsense,” he said during the 2016 election, before the term “fake news” became an accepted part of our lexicon.
Of course, he’s not the first leader to take to streaming video to communicate with the public directly, though you’d hope he’d have higher production values than WebCameron did back in 2006.
In fact, Obama’s potential show sounds more similar in format to former Labour leader Ed Miliband’s podcast Reasons to be cheerful, which explores political ideas from trade unions to tech monopolies.
Though again, probably with higher production values. To that end, the Obamas have enlisted Higher Ground Productions to make their shows.