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Former NBCUniversal television executive Bela Bajaria heads to Netflix

Former NBCUniversal television executive Bela Bajaria heads to Netflix
Bela Bajaria, a former NBCUniversal executive, joins Netflix's content team. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Four months after abruptly leaving her post as president of Universal Television, Bela Bajaria is joining forces with her former employer's biggest rival: Netflix.

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Bajaria has been tapped to serve as the video streaming behemoth's vice president of content. In her new role, she'll oversee a team focused on TV and film licensing from major U.S. studios, as well as co-production relationships with major U.S. networks.

She also will have oversight of a new group focused on developing original unscripted programs for Netflix. She starts Nov. 1.

During her five-year run at NBCUniversal, Bajaria was instrumental in helping reenergize Universal Television's output with such series as "The Mindy Project," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Shades of Blue," "Superstore," "Bates Motel," "Master of None" and Dick Wolf's "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago Med" franchise.

But many of those Universal shows run on other networks, including Netflix, which fueled tensions with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt and played a part in her departure. He wanted more aggressive development of shows that would run on the peacock network.

Bajaria comes to Netflix well-aware of the streaming service's growing empire — and clout. The Universal Television studio benefited from Netflix's appetite for licensing content and its willingness to shell out big bucks for it. NBCUniversal comedies "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "Master of None" wound up as part of Netflix programming slate, earning critical acclaim and some gold trophies. But at the same time, Netflix quickly grew into a major threat to studios and networks.

"Bela is a great creative television executive with broad experience and deep industry relationships," said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos in a statement.

"Having worked closely with her on 'Master of None,' and 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,' we know we have found the perfect executive to lead this new effort," he said.

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Bajaria, who spent much of her career at CBS, steps into her role as Netflix is working on several co-productions: "Star Trek" with CBS, "The Alienist" with Paramount TV and ABC's recently launched series "Designated Survivor" with E One, as well as sharing windows globally with original broadcasters.

Bajaria, in her statement, praised Netflix as a company that "supports creative vision and fosters risk-taking."

Twitter: @villarrealy

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