A lot of tidbits from Netflix‘s quarterly conference call with analysts — including the fact that the final season of Breaking Bad won’t be available on the service until 2014. But one of the most interesting disclosures is that the execs want to back movies — which they would transmit to living rooms faster than conventional Hollywood productions do. The company is “actively looking at documentaries,” Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says, though he adds that he’ll “keep my mind wide open” for other genres. The company’s intrigued in part because it wouldn’t have to wait for its titles to sell on home video before it can stream them to subscribers. “Even though that window is moving, it isn’t moving aggressively enough,” he says. A more aggressive timetable “would be good for our members.” But he squashed a recent report in The Wall Street Journal that said Netflix might be interested in cutting a deal to offer NFL games. “We’re still not interested in sports,” he says, calling matches “primarily a linear experience.”
CEO Reed Hastings was more upbeat about the possibility that a cable system might include a Netflix TV app for broadband customers. “It would not be a problem to be on a Comcast box,” he says. “I’m hopeful we can do a deal.” The big problem is that pay TV distributors have seen Netflix as a threat — a service that might encourage subscribers to cancel their pay TV subscriptions. But Hastings says they shouldn’t worry. “Right now there’s zero cord cutting. The question is, will that last.” He says that his market “has not been the cord-cutter market. … Consumers see it as complementary [to pay TV] not a replacement.” He has little sympathy with the plea from Liberty Media’s John Malone for cable companies to develop an alternative to Netflix, or support usage based broadband pricing. They already charge about $60 a month for Internet service, without any programming costs. “We think it will work out in the long run if there’s net neutrality.”
Hastings has mixed feelings about another streaming service: Aereo. The CEO calls the Barry Diller-backed company “both opportunity and threat” for Netflix. He likes the fact that by including a DVR-like capability, Aereo encourages consumers to think in terms of VOD. But Aereo is looking to offer a broad array of channels — it now has Bloomberg TV in addition to broadcast TV — which could make it more of a competitor. That’s a distant possibility, though. “The entertainment time pool is very large so one competitor hasn’t been able to affect us positively or negatively,” Hastings says.
Asked about his relationship with activist investor Carl Icahn, Hastings says that the billionaire “likes people who make him money, so he’s happy with me now.”