Netflix's Ted Sarandos says 'everyone I've ever known' has texted him about 'Making a Murderer'

Netflix's Ted Sarandos says 'everyone I've ever known' has texted him about 'Making a Murderer'
Netflix's Ted Sarandos speaks during a Jan. 6 keynote address at CES in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

It's the show that made the holidays astonishingly grim for many.

Since its Dec. 18 launch, Netflix's true-crime docu-series "Making a Murderer" has been the source of water cooler conversations, office polls, group text message chains littered with emojis and GIFs expressing outrage and/or shock, and just about any other display of complete obsession.


Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said he got his share of said texts.

"I'll tell you what, over Christmas break, everyone I've ever known was texting me about 'Making a Murderer," Sarandos said in a phone interview shortly after the company's announcement Wednesday at CES in Las Vegas that it had extended its streaming television service to nearly every country in the world.

Produced and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, the series follows the case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man wrongly convicted of sexual assault and now serving a life sentence for a murder he says he did not commit. Brendan Dassey, Avery's nephew, was also convicted for his alleged involvement in the crime.

An image from the Netflix documentary "Making A Murderer."
An image from the Netflix documentary "Making A Murderer." (Netflix)

The series, which unfolds over the course of 10 one-hour installments, highlights what it says are flaws in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

Netflix doesn't release viewership data on its shows, but it certainly feels like the series has gripped the nation.

Conspiracy theories abound. Celebrities such as Alec Baldwin and Rosie O'Donnell have recommended the show on Twitter. A petition to the White House asking President Obama to pardon Avery and his nephew has collected over 125,000 signatures. The Wisconsin journalists who followed the case have become celebrities, while Avery's lawyers, Dean Strang and Jerome Buting, have become heroes and the focus of admiration to some.

"It's really exciting to watch something really take off like that," Sarandos said. "It's a combination of wonderfully addictive storytelling and the release timing. There were enough people home watching a lot of TV over the holiday break. Influencers and heavy social media users got onto it first, got addicted and burned through those 10 hours and spread the word."

Sarandos attributes the viewer fascination to fear that the strange and disturbing turn of events portrayed in the series could happen to anyone.

"It scares people," he said.  "I think when people see things like that, they think that it could happen to them."

So, does Sarandos think Avery is innocent?

"Oh, I can't say," Sarandos said.

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