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Netflix’s Hastings: ‘All content online’

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has suggested that with increasing competition in the online entertainment marketplace, all content consumed will be on the Internet, with Netflix representing a small slice of that. Hastings made his assertion during a keynote session at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in conversation with BBC reporter Francine Stock.

“The way that Internet TV is moving means there is competition from all sides,” he said. “They are not trying to kill us, because they too are serving consumers. We have seen YouTube, Amazon and even BBC open up globally, and there are now lots of TV networks bring content on the Internet. Rather than getting run over by this, we are excited to be, and continue to be, at the forefront.”

He said that companies such as Amazon and Hulu weren’t trying to take down Netflix, they were “really trying to serve consumers, and it’s kind of wonderful in a way. All the content you consume will be in the Internet, and Netflix will be a small slice of that.”

He defended ‘binge viewing’, suggesting that most linear networks would adopt the model, drawing an analogy with reading a novel. “The original binge view was the novel. You got to stay up late, you could do it at your leisure, it was portable, you could take it to the beach. The Internet has brought back binge viewing. You’re going to see most linear networks convert to binge viewing,” he predicted.

He revealed that Netflix and service providers were finding new business models and techniques to address bandwidth and quality issues. “A number of companies are pioneering new ways to offer video to consumers, where you get unlimited video viewing, but you get it at a lower speed. Now, what we’ve done is invest in codecs so that at half a megabit , you get incredible picture quality. We’re now at about 300 kilobits per second, and we’re hoping someday to get down to 200 kilobits. So, we’re being more and more efficient with operators’ networks.”

In terms of mobile viewing, he suggested mobile phones were getting “better and better”. “We just announced with LG how we are integrating HDR into phones, so you get a fuller colour spectrum, so these advanced screens you see in mobile are really progressing.”

“I watch The Crown on mobile, and it’s incredible. But I told that to the director, Peter Morgan, and he was aghast when I told him that,” revealed Hastings. “There are people who are very classical about what they want. But the screens on mobile these days I think are just amazing. I would bet older people will watch on larger screens forever, and younger people will be focused on mobile. We want to be very flexible, so we can design for any screen you have. We are focused on stories you watch on any screen.”

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