Netflix doesn’t need to promote itself to Microsoft. It does need to get actually deep into the video games enterprise. Elon Musk is a courageous man, and we must always reduce him some slack. And did we point out that Netflix actually, actually needs to be in video games?
These are a few of the takeaways from Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings’s look on the New York Instances Dealbook convention at this time, and I’m going to go deeper on them in a minute.
However first, a little bit little bit of context: I went to at this time’s occasion as a result of it was a reasonably uncommon probability to see Hastings converse in public — one thing he’s executed little or no of in recent times past the quarterly earnings calls his firm hosts. And we actually haven’t heard a lot from Hastings since April, when Netflix introduced a stunning subscriber loss — and, simply as shockingly, a transfer into promoting, which the corporate had all the time insisted it wouldn’t do.
These 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 everybody chasing Netflix was going to run into the identical issues — helped bitter media traders on the streaming business 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 couple 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. However in the event you have been in search of Hastings to throw out a mea culpa about getting streaming fallacious — or absolutely anything else fallacious — you’d be disenchanted with this interview: Hastings nonetheless thinks nearly all the pieces Netflix was doing three years in the past remains to be right at this time.
However this was a wide-ranging interview, and it wasn’t streamed, so I need to pull out some highlights for you right here.
Video games, video games, video games: Netflix first introduced a foray into video video games again within the spring of 2021. On reflection, that transfer was a a lot clearer sign that it was anxious about the way forward for streaming than most of us picked up on on the time. And since then, Netflix has purchased a couple of small sport studios and launched a pair dozen informal video games. However neither the gaming business nor Wall Road appears to suppose Netflix will probably be an actual competitor in video games. So it was fascinating that all through the interview, Hastings repeatedly talked about his curiosity in video games, with out prompting. Netflix, he stated time and again, needs to make nice TV reveals, films, and video games. And when requested about Netflix’s well-reported curiosity in stepping into sports activities, he answered with this: “Discuss to us after we’re an enormous chief in video games. We have now a whole lot of funding to do in video games.” Message acquired.
Talking of sports activities: Hastings wasn’t requested instantly about Netflix bidding on reside sports activities rights (although different executives within the house have advised me Netflix has executed so). However when requested about his just lately introduced transfer to livestream a Chris Rock comedy particular subsequent yr, 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 reveals,” which sort of sound like sports activities to me however I’m assuming means stuff like Netflix’s “Love Is Blind” actuality reveals/contests.
Netflix + Microsoft = ? Requested to clarify why Netflix had picked Microsoft to be its associate in its foray into promoting, Hastings was fairly clear: Microsoft paid Netflix some huge cash. Or in his phrases: “They have been keen to be very aggressive within the deal.” However Hastings insisted that this doesn’t sign an eventual sale to Microsoft, which a lot of business of us have speculated about. “It’s not regular to do business offers with folks you’re attempting to accumulate,” he stated. “That makes it extra sophisticated, not much less.”
Sticking with bingeing, and Chappelle: One of many many issues Hollywood thinks Netflix ought to do to be extra like Hollywood is dispense with its custom of dropping all of its reveals without delay. Netflix has began to play with that concept a bit (this summer time it break up its latest Stranger Issues season into two chunks). However Hastings says Netflix gained’t eliminate it as a result of he doesn’t have to — different streamers have to unfold their reveals out, he stated, as a result of they don’t have as many reveals folks like — and since clients prefer it.
Asking whether or not clients would favor a world the place they’ve to attend every week to see a brand new episode is senseless, he stated — it could be akin to asking “would you moderately learn yesterday’s information or at this time’s?” And Hastings additionally stated Netflix had no regrets in regards to the Dave Chappelle specials it launched, wherein the comic has more and more centered on battling trans activists. These specials have been massive hits for the service, he stated, and “we might do it time and again.”
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 needs to be saying, ‘Thanks, Mark, for advancing this nice know-how,’” he stated. “[But] I don’t know if it’s nice for shareholders.”
Hastings was fulsome about his admiration for Elon Musk, who he known as “the bravest, most inventive individual on the planet.” Hastings famous that Musk’s private model is extra … bombastic than his, however stated that Musk’s critics are getting it fallacious: “I’m one hundred pc 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 massive yacht. “Give this man a break.”