October 17, 2019
With Disney and Apple just weeks away from launching branded subscription streaming video services, Netflix remains defiant to the pending competition, which includes service launches from WarnerMedia (HBO Max) and NBCUniversal (Peacock) early next year.
Speaking on the company’s Oct. 16 fiscal earnings webcast, CCO Ted Sarandos walked back any apparent corporate weakness regarding comments CEO Reed Hastings made in the United Kingdom last month about a whole new world in over-the-top video awaiting come November.
“I think I got the subtlety of the brave — the whole new world Aladdin reference,” Sarandos quipped. “Everyone else took it pretty literal.”
Many on Wall Street had taken Hastings’ comment to suggest Netflix was concerned, especially after HBO Max and Peacock took away Netflix streaming rights to popular reruns of “Seinfeld” and “The Office,” respectively.
“From when we began in  streaming, Hulu and YouTube and Amazon Prime Video were all in the market,” Hastings said. “All four of us have been competing heavily, including with linear TV, for the last 12 years. So fundamentally, there’s not a big change here.”
Hastings said he found it “interesting” to see both Apple and Disney launching services in the same week after 12 years of not showing much interest in SVOD.
“I was being a little playful with a whole new world in the sense of the drama of it coming,” Hastings added. “But fundamentally, it’s more of the same, and Disney is going to be a great competitor. Apple is just beginning, but they’ll probably have some great shows, too.”
Indeed, until just recently, Disney exclusively licensed original movies and rights to create original Marvel TV series to Netflix.
The Netflix co-founder reiterated that the SVOD market remains more in competition with linear TV than within its market. He said OTT video is still a relatively small player compared to broadcast TV.
“So, just like in the [shareholder] letter … [writing about] multiple cable networks over the last 30 years not really competing with each other fundamentally but competing with broadcast TV, I think it’s the same kind of dynamic here [with streaming video],” Hastings said.