Waiting to get streaming sports on Netflix? Don't bother.
CEO Reed Hastings told attendees at the recent The New York Times DealBook Conference that he doesn't see a future where Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) streams live sports. Hastings isn't categorically opposed to live programming, but while Netflix is experimenting now with entertainment news and interview-driven content, the CEO isn't interested in extending live coverage to the sports world.
"We're bringing [host Chelsea Handler] on a Netflix show starting next year and it's a talk show about entertainment. So it's pretty close to home. It's not really breaking news. It's creating news and doing interview pieces," said Hastings.
"Chelsea Handler is pretty live," Hastings added. "We're not opposed to that. That's just different from big-ticket sports."
There's been reason to speculate that Netflix could get into the sports business. Hastings told CNBC host Jim Cramer in September that sports networks are going on-demand. And sports franchises have proven themselves willing to experiment with new digital models even as the big cable bundle, which traditionally held a firm grip on sports giant ESPN until Sling TV came around, continues to unravel. (See Are Sports Next for Netflix?)
However, Hastings' latest interview was specific about not addressing sports -- certainly not live sports and seemingly not on-demand sporting events either.
"Sports is not something that we've spent any time on," said Hastings. "We're working really hard on getting more movies and more TV shows and that's a plenty big enough prize for us."
Hastings had more to say on content too, namely that pay-TV providers could be more competitive against online rivals if they were able to execute more effectively on TV Everywhere strategies. However, he argued that it's hard for operators to do TV Everywhere well in an environment where content rights are heavily fractured.
Hastings was bullish on content overall, noting that the entertainment sector continues to grow both in terms of the time and money consumers are willing to spend. To that point, he also said that he doesn't agree with FX CEO John Landgraf, who stated over the summer that there's too much TV content available.
"He's wrong. There's not nearly enough," said Hastings.
Netflix will spend roughly $5 billion on content in 2016.
Hastings' optimism around content explains why cable and telco operators are so focused on their broadband services. Even if Netflix doesn't plan to stream sports, someone will, and some already are. (See OTT & the Net New Effect and Sling TV – Like Pay-TV, but Skinnier.)
That trend, plus a lot of new Netflix content, means there will continue to be increasing pressure on network capacity and growing demand for high-speed Internet services.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading