SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings isn’t at all bothered by the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner, “As long as HBO’s bits and Netflix’s bits are treated the same [by regulators],” he said.
Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s Live Conference, Hastings sparred with Comcast over a previous deal they had proposed with Time Warner in 2014, fearing the deal could mean Comcast would have the ability to block broadband internet access to Netflix customers.
However, Hasting’s sees the AT&T Time Warner deal as potentially beneficial and says his main concern is Net Neutrality.
“I think AT&T’s going to be aggressive about building a national competitor to all of the cable companies like DirectTV has been to the satellite companies – and if they pull that off that would be in the consumer’s interest,” Hastings said.
When asked if he would target Time Warner himself with a proposition, Hastings offered a long pause. “Next question. That was not a no,” he eventually said.
Hasting’s seems practical about how to reach different consumers in different areas – his company is now in 130 countries and counting. Regardless, he says he has a long way to go to capturing attention away from all the apps and social media networks and all the other things that take away from giving Netflix our attention.
The real challenge, he says, is figuring out what the next thing is to capture that attention, “Is it VR, is it gaming, is it pharmacological?” he said.
Hastings then entertained a weirdly off-script and hilarious projection about that last part, “In twenty or fifty years taking a personalized blue pill, you just hallucinate in an entertaining way and then a white pill brings you back to normality is perfectly viable; and if the source of human entertainment in thirty or forty years is pharmacological we’ll be in real trouble,” he said.
Hastings was also hopeful AT&T might invest money of its own in the future to make more of the original content Netflix has become famous for, right alongside competitors like Hulu, Amazon and his company.
Overall, Hasting’s believes he’s in the business of “turning money into joy” and “eliminating boredom and loneliness” more than anything.
AT&T and others who want to own original content, not just control the pipe see the advantage in that – Netflix just posted a juicy quarter, adding 3.2 million subscribers, with expectations to grow subscribers – and revenue – even more this holiday season.