Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Plays Nice With Apple (“Great Company”) As New Streaming War Looms


“Our success doesn’t determine their success,” Reed Hastings said Monday about the increased competition for Netflix in cable and from other streamers, both current and to come. “We will make this a better industry if we have better competitors,” he CEO added with a smile, hiding battle scars to come.

Despite that good will, at the tail end of a daylong get-together at Netflix’s LA HQ, the boss of the home of Oscar Best Picture nominee Roma, multiple Emmy nominee Grace and Frankie, Stranger Things, The Crown and Casa De Papel (Money Heist) admitted the increased stakes that will come from Apple, Disney and WarnerMedia by the end of the year has a “difficulty” or two baked in.

“All we have to do to succeed is to continue to stream great content and not get too distracted,” Hastings said, back to beating an optimistic drum as the streaming war looms. The response was one of many Hastings himself jokingly called coming in that overly sunny, “typical CEO fashion.”

In that vein and very different from the barbs Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos delivered earlier today, Hastings he called the digital armada of Apple, Disney+, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and more “quite exciting” for the industry.

Praised by the playing nice but hyper-competitive Netflix CEO as a “great company,” deep-pocketed Apple is planning to begin the rollout of its forthcoming streaming service March 25 at a presentation at the Tim Cook-run company’s Silicon Valley HQ. While some like Starz and HBO are said to have inked deals to be available on whatever platform Apple’s streamer ends up launching from, Hastings is distinctly focused on keeping Netflix content on Netflix, he asserted.

“We want to have people watch our content in our service,” he said.

“We’ve always had massive competitors,” Hastings added, noting that Amazon began dipping its toe into the streaming pool at the same time as Netflix in 2007. “These are amazingly well funded companies,” he also stated of soon-to-own-Fox Disney, AT&T-owned WarnerMedia and the overflowing war chest of Apple.

Planning to spend around $4 billion on content this year, the debt-straddled Netflix has around $20 billion in current obligations. Hastings almost casually noted that Netflix takes in about $1.4 billion a month from its 139 million global subscribers, plus the 2 million who still get DVDs delivered in the mail.

Though, in a session full of platitudes, it’s doubtful those non-streamers are the Plan B cavalry as the battlefield becomes bloodier.

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