Netflix mints Barack and Michelle Obama as media moguls

Movies, documentaries and shows -- oh my. Barack and Michelle Obama's deal with Netflix will bring multiple programs to the streaming service worldwide.

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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Barack and Michelle Obama dance

Netflix's multiyear deal with the Obamas includes TV series, both scripted and unscripted, as well as documentaries and features.

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Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama will produce films and TV shows for Netflix, focusing on inspirational stories of people from all walks of life, the streaming-video service and the Obamas said Monday. 

Netflix said the Obamas have signed a multiyear agreement to create a diverse slate through their newly formed production house Higher Ground Productions. The deal includes potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features. The programs will be available worldwide to all subscribers, Netflix said. The company didn't disclose financial terms. 

The Obamas indicated that they'll use the projects to cultivate talent besides themselves and will focus on promoting "empathy and understanding." The former president has some experience with Netflix already. He was the first guest on David Letterman's monthly Netflix interview show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. 

"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," the former president 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."

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The former first lady said she and her husband "have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others. Netflix's unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership." 

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos called the Obamas "among the world's most respected and highly recognized public figures." 

They're "uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better," said Sarandos. "We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities."

Not surprisingly, the news attracted widely divergent reactions, with some Netflix subscribers threatening to boycott the streaming media service:

While others congratulated Netflix on the deal: 

The Obamas were reported to be in talks with Netflix for months.  

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Updated at 5:11 p.m. PT: Adds subscriber reactions to the announcement. 

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