Interviewed on CNBC to coincide with the seasonal launch of House of Cards, Netflix Founder and CEO Reed Hastings has described the Trump administration’s proposed repeal of the FCC’s ‘Open Internet’ network neutrality rules as “unfortunate”, accepting that it was probably going to happen, but that it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Responding to suggestions that Netflix may be reaching saturation in its domestic market, hence its aggressive expansion abroad, Hastings said that if it kept the product the same, with no more improvements, then it would saturate.“But we are continuing to improve Netflix. we are making the streaming incredible now we have HD, 4K and HDR. if you buy a new TV, it is incredible how it looks. it is much better than a movie theatre. We are adding more and more shows. We keep pushing off that saturation,” he declared, later noting that 4K TV sales could be seen as a leading indicator of engagement in Netflix. 4K transforms the in-home experience. That’s one of the big drivers and with mobile on the low end.”
Asked how concerned he was about President Trump’s and his administration’s decision to change the rules regarding net neutrality, Hastings said: “We will see if they do change the rules. That would be unfortunate, but it is probably going to happen. and i don’t think it will be a big deal. I think the principles of net neutrality are very well accepted by all the large ISPs around the world – not just in the US and in many countries, we don’t have net neutrality laws, but we don’t have problems either,” he advised.
As to whether it would raise Netflix’s costs if the rules were changed, Hastings said he didn’t think so. “That would be very unlikely. So again, net neutrality is really important, but I think basically there is a consensus amongst ISPs around the world to follow those rules. And so, even in countries where there aren’t laws, we don’t seem to have problems,” he reiterated, suggesting that as one of the largest suppliers of streaming, Netflix was probably relatively insulated. “The real impact around net neutrality would be on small firms, you know, the Netflix of ten years ago. So, it is super important, again, for the society. But I think even if they unwind the Title II rules, my guess would be that the net neutrality principles are still followed.”
Among separate comments in the wide-ranging interview, Hastings confirmed that Netflix had “no plans” on news and sports. “Those are tough businesses and we’ve got a lot of room to grow in movies and TV shows, noting Netflix’s expansion into stand-up comedy, and unscripted. “So, we are going to really focus on that on a global basis.”
Beyond the existing licensing deal in China, Hastings suggested that a launch there was “off the table for the next couple of years”.