Netflix doesn’t wish to promote itself to Microsoft. It does wish to get actually deep into the video games enterprise. Elon Musk is a courageous man, and we must always minimize him some slack. And did we point out that Netflix actually, actually desires to be in video games?
Those are among the takeaways from Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings’s look on the New York Times Dealbook convention immediately, and I’m going to go deeper on them in a minute.
But first, a bit little bit of context: I went to immediately’s occasion as a result of it was a reasonably uncommon likelihood to see Hastings converse in public — one thing he’s performed little or no of in recent times past the quarterly earnings calls his firm hosts. And we definitely haven’t heard a lot from Hastings since April, when Netflix announced a shocking subscriber loss — and, simply as shockingly, a move into advertising, which the company had always insisted it wouldn’t do.
Those bulletins and the implication behind them — if Netflix, the clear chief in streaming, was already beginning to run into progress and income issues, then it meant everyone chasing Netflix was going to run into the same problems — helped bitter media buyers on the streaming trade Netflix had pioneered.
And as Dealbook host Andrew Ross Sorkin famous, the final time Hastings got here to New York for this convention was three years in the past, a number of months earlier than the pandemic locked down a lot of the world and a time when Netflix was the north star for streaming, with subsequent to no competitors. But if you happen to had been in search of Hastings to throw out a mea culpa about getting streaming incorrect — or absolutely anything else incorrect — you’d be dissatisfied with this interview: Hastings nonetheless thinks nearly the whole lot Netflix was doing three years in the past remains to be appropriate immediately.
But this was a wide-ranging interview, and it wasn’t streamed, so I wish to pull out some highlights for you right here.
Games, video games, video games: Netflix first introduced a foray into video video games back in the spring of 2021. In retrospect, that transfer was a a lot clearer sign that it was frightened about the way forward for streaming than most of us picked up on on the time. And since then, Netflix has purchased a number of small sport studios and launched a pair dozen informal video games. But neither the gaming trade nor Wall Street appears to assume Netflix will probably be an actual competitor in video games. So it was attention-grabbing that all through the interview, Hastings repeatedly talked about his curiosity in video games, with out prompting. Netflix, he stated again and again, desires to make nice TV exhibits, films, and video games. And when requested about Netflix’s well-reported interest in getting into sports, he answered with this: “Talk to us after we’re an enormous chief in video games. We have a whole lot of funding to do in video games.” Message acquired.
Speaking of sports activities: Hastings wasn’t requested straight about Netflix bidding on reside sports activities rights (although different executives within the area have instructed me Netflix has performed so). But when requested about his just lately introduced transfer to livestream a Chris Rock comedy special subsequent 12 months, Hastings instantly dismissed the concept that this was a precursor to streaming reside sports activities. “That’s not true.” Livestreaming, he stated, will probably be used for issues like comedy, and perhaps “contestant exhibits,” which form of sound like sports activities to me however I’m assuming means stuff like Netflix’s “Love Is Blind” actuality exhibits/contests.
Netflix + Microsoft = ? Asked to elucidate why Netflix had picked Microsoft to be its companion in its foray into promoting, Hastings was fairly clear: Microsoft paid Netflix some huge cash. Or in his phrases: “They had been keen to be very aggressive within the deal.” But Hastings insisted that this doesn’t sign an eventual sale to Microsoft, which a number of trade people have speculated about. “It’s not regular to do business offers with individuals you’re attempting to accumulate,” he stated. “That makes it extra difficult, not much less.”
Sticking with bingeing, and Chappelle: One of the numerous issues Hollywood thinks Netflix ought to do to be extra like Hollywood is dispense with its custom of dropping all of its exhibits directly. Netflix has began to play with that concept a bit (this summer it split its newest Stranger Things season into two chunks). But Hastings says Netflix received’t eliminate it as a result of he doesn’t have to — different streamers have to unfold their exhibits out, he stated, as a result of they don’t have as many exhibits individuals like — and since prospects prefer it.
Asking whether or not prospects would like a world the place they’ve to attend every week to see a brand new episode is senseless, he stated — it will be akin to asking “would you somewhat learn yesterday’s information or immediately’s?” And Hastings additionally stated Netflix had no regrets concerning the Dave Chappelle specials it launched, during which the comic has more and more targeted on battling trans activists. Those specials have been huge hits for the service, he stated, and “we might do it repeatedly.”
Elon and Mark: Hastings, who was on Meta’s board of administrators, supplied muted reward for Mark Zuckerberg’s push into digital actuality and the metaverse: “I believe the world must be saying, ‘Thank you, Mark, for advancing this nice expertise,’” he stated. “[But] I don’t know if it’s nice for shareholders.”
Hastings was fulsome about his admiration for Elon Musk, who he referred to as “the bravest, most inventive individual on the planet.” Hastings famous that Musk’s private type is extra … bombastic than his, however stated that Musk’s critics are getting it incorrect: “I’m 100% satisfied that he’s attempting to assist the world,” he stated, and argued that we must always reward him for paying $44 billion for Twitter as an alternative of, say, constructing a very huge yacht. “Give this man a break.”