Netflix fires employee leading Chappelle protest for leaking internal information

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Today, Netflix fired the leader of an employee trans support group who has been advocating for a company walkout next week over Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer.” However, the employee wasn’t fired over the walkout but over leaks of internal data that wound up in print:

Netflix has fired a leader of the trans employee resource group who was organizing the upcoming October 20th walkout. The employee, who is Black and currently pregnant, asked not to be named for fear of online harassment…

The employee was terminated on suspicion of leaking metrics to the press related to the Dave Chappelle special. Those metrics — about how much Netflix paid for The Closer and how many people it reached — subsequently ended up in a report on Bloomberg. While the employee had shared the metrics internally, they spoke out against the leaks to colleagues, worried they might hurt the walkout movement.

Netflix is known for never releasing internal metrics about the performance of its shows. But earlier this week Bloomberg published a story full of leaks about the Chappelle specials:

…10 million people have put on “The Closer” since its debut, according to a person familiar with viewer numbers…

The comedian’s popularity comes at a cost. Netflix spent $24.1 million on the “The Closer,” slightly more than the $23.6 million it paid for Chappelle’s 2019 special, “Sticks & Stones.”…

By Netflix’s own measurement, “Sticks & Stones” had an “impact value” of $19.4 million, meaning it cost more than the value it generated, according to internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg. The company also evaluates its programs by “efficiency,” which balances a show’s reach with its price-tag. On that scale, Chappelle’s special scored 0.8 — less than the break-even score of 1…

Even the Bloomberg story noted that “the Chappelle special has prompted leaks unprecedented in the company’s history.” So this really is unheard of and conceivably a firing offense at Netflix. As for the data that was revealed, Bloomberg notes that it doesn’t prove Netflix isn’t making money of the Chappelle specials.

Frankly, it doesn’t strike me as at all unusual that a leading entertainment company would pay a premium to be the home of someone many people believe to be the greatest living stand-up comedian if not “the GOAT.” Media companies recognize there’s a certain prestige to being in business with the top people in any field. They are probably willing to overpay a bit for that prestige.

I’m sure the walkout will continue next week and that will cause the story to drag on. So far the co-CEOs seem to be saying the right things but I guess we’ll see if the SJW contingent can force them to deplatform one of their own top performers.