Mike Fries, the chief executive of Virgin Media owner Liberty Global, has said that Netflix has lost its “cool factor” and is no longer a major threat to pay-TV companies.
Fries believes that despite its explosive growth Netflix’s model is constrained. “Netflix is now more of a programme provider, like an HBO or a Sky Movies, as opposed to a [direct competitor] like Sky,” said Fries, in London for a recent board meeting. “The cool factor is gone, and we are now matching it, meaning they have to invest in content to attract subscribers.”
Fries was making reference to the technological advances that Liberty Global has now made to bridge the gap with services such as Netflix, such as its VoD service My Prime which has rolled out across Europe.
Fries continued: “The problem for Netflix is while it is a home of TV shows and films it doesn’t have Sky or BBC which makes [it just] part of the meal. We want to be the big plate, if you want to look at it in those terms. The long tail is a myth. People want Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey.”