After spending nearly six billion dollars on original programming and movie acquisitions in 2016, Netflix has proven it’s capable of playing alongside the major studios and television networks as a purveyor of film and television. This was all part of the company’s goal to hit 100 million subscribers by the first quarter of 2017, a goal that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admits they didn’t quite meet. Of course, this also comes on the heels of the streaming giant suggesting that its viewers have watched 500 million hours of Adam Sandler movies, hinting at a rare week of disappointing headlines for the company.
As covered by The Hollywood Reporter, Hastings offered Netflix’s version of a State of the Union address with Wall Street investors this past week, sharing his thoughts on the company’s exponential growth and where they see potential dangers on the road ahead. One of the major questions for Hastings was about his competition – when asked about Amazon Prime as a potential disruptor for their business model, Hastings was quick to praise Amazon but shrugged off concerns that they were cutting into Netflix’s business. He noted that they’re really only “competing with sleep” when it comes to people binging their shows. Given his company’s ongoing cold war with French exhibitors, Hastings did make a fairly tone deaf comment about theatrical exhibition, suggesting that Amazon’s decision to show their films in theaters was a disservice to their customers. “Since our members are funding these films,” Hastings said, “they should be the first to see them.” I’m sure that’ll go over well.
Hastings also expressed far more concern regarding YouTube, noting that the streaming video service hits one billion views a day while Netflix lags behind at one billion views per week. To quote the CEO, “We’ve definitely got YouTube envy.” And in a rare admission of defeat, Hastings was surprisingly candid about their “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel, noting that their decision to produce the movie was less profitable than simply streaming the original film. Still, even this failure was framed as a learning opportunity, suggesting that Netflix has its eye on a marathon, not a sprint. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the jury is out on how long Netflix can keep up its astronomical growth – after all, there are only so many new countries and markets in the world – but for the time being, things look good for cinema’s most notorious disruptor.