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 number of the takeaways from Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings’s look on the New York Instances Dealbook convention immediately, and I’m going to go deeper on them in a minute.
However first, a bit of little bit of context: I went to immediately’s occasion as a result of it was a reasonably uncommon probability to see Hastings communicate in public — one thing he’s completed little or no of lately past the quarterly earnings calls his firm hosts. And we definitely haven’t heard a lot from Hastings since April, when Netflix introduced a surprising subscriber loss — and, simply as shockingly, a transfer into promoting, which the corporate had at all times 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 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 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 when you have been in search of Hastings to throw out a mea culpa about getting streaming mistaken — or absolutely anything else mistaken — you’d be dissatisfied with this interview: Hastings nonetheless thinks nearly all the pieces Netflix was doing three years in the past remains to be right immediately.
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. Looking back, that transfer was a a lot clearer sign that it was apprehensive 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 recreation studios and launched a pair dozen informal video games. However neither the gaming trade nor Wall Road appears to assume Netflix shall 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 mentioned again and again, needs to make nice TV reveals, films, and video games. And when requested about Netflix’s well-reported curiosity in entering into sports activities, he answered with this: “Discuss to us after we’re an enormous chief in video games. We’ve got lots of funding to do in video games.” Message acquired.
Talking of sports activities: Hastings wasn’t requested immediately about Netflix bidding on dwell sports activities rights (although different executives within the area have advised me Netflix has completed so). However when requested about his just lately introduced transfer to livestream a Chris Rock comedy particular subsequent 12 months, Hastings instantly dismissed the concept this was a precursor to streaming dwell sports activities. “That’s not true.” Livestreaming, he mentioned, shall be used for issues like comedy, and perhaps “contestant reveals,” which type 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 companion in its foray into promoting, Hastings was fairly clear: Microsoft paid Netflix some huge cash. Or in his phrases: “They have been prepared to be very aggressive within the deal.” However Hastings insisted that this doesn’t sign an eventual sale to Microsoft, which numerous trade of us have speculated about. “It’s not regular to do industrial offers with folks you’re making an attempt to amass,” he mentioned. “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 directly. 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 do away with it as a result of he doesn’t have to — different streamers have to unfold their reveals out, he mentioned, as a result of they don’t have as many reveals folks like — and since prospects prefer it.
Asking whether or not prospects would favor a world the place they’ve to attend per week to see a brand new episode is senseless, he mentioned — it might be akin to asking “would you relatively learn yesterday’s information or immediately’s?” And Hastings additionally mentioned Netflix had no regrets in regards to the Dave Chappelle specials it launched, by which the comic has more and more centered on battling trans activists. These specials have been huge hits for the service, he mentioned, and “we might do it many times.”
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 feel the world must be saying, ‘Thanks, Mark, for advancing this nice expertise,’” he mentioned. “[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 artistic particular person on the planet.” Hastings famous that Musk’s private fashion is extra … bombastic than his, however mentioned that Musk’s critics are getting it mistaken: “I’m one hundred pc satisfied that he’s making an attempt to assist the world,” he mentioned, and argued that we must always reward him for paying $44 billion for Twitter as a substitute of, say, constructing a very huge yacht. “Give this man a break.”