×

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Amazon: ‘They’re Awfully Scary’

Reed Hastings, Netflix’s co-founder, chairman and CEO, acknowledged that Amazon is a very large and formidable rival — even as he praised the e-commerce giant as helping to grow the streaming-video sector.

“We’re continuing to watch them and be impressed with them,” Hastings said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” Wednesday. “They’re helping to grow the industry… [but] they’re awfully scary.”

At the same time, Hastings drew a distinction between the overall strategy of the two companies, noting that Netflix is focused entirely on subscription VOD whereas Amazon is trying to sell hundreds of different products. “We’re trying to be Starbucks, they’re trying to be Walmart,” he said.

Amazon’s video content budget for 2017 will be about $4.5 billion, according to J.P. Morgan estimates. Netflix is set to spend $6 billion on content this year — as well as another $1 billion marketing it.

Amazon is paying about $50 million for NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” package of 11 games next season. But Netflix still has no interest in acquiring right to live sports, Hastings said, reiterating the position he and other execs have expressed. Netflix also doesn’t plan to invest in live news programming, he added.

In the CNBC interview, Hastings said Netflix is continuously investing in artificial intelligence in order to improve its content recommendations. “We want you to turn on Netflix with a row of four shows, you just want to watch them all,” he said.

Even with all of Netflix’s ballyhooed expertise in crunching data, Hastings said that the company’s content acquisitions are “fundamentally a creative bet” and gave props to chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Netflix — which famously does not reveal viewing metrics — mostly measures the success of its content based on how many people watch the programming, as well as how it affects subscriber signups and retention, Hastings said.

Netflix was surprised by the popularity of teen-suicide drama “13 Reasons Why,” according to Hastings. He noted that the company has not canceled many shows; while he didn’t mention it, last week Netflix canceled Baz Luhrmann’s pricey original series “The Get Down” after one season.

More Digital

  • apple AR patent application

    Apple Patents Gesture, Expression Tracking for Mixed Reality Headset

    Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset could include a number of sensors to track the eyes, gestures and even facial expressions of its users. The company applied for a patent to track these kinds of inputs, and combine them with information gathered from outward-facing sensors for mixed reality experiences. The patent application in question, simply titled [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor Comic Con

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the biggest volume of buzz for nine of the top 10 [...]

  • Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content