Netflix discusses ‘YouTube envy’ and faith programming

Netflix co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings

Netflix co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings

Netflix bosses have told investors they have ‘YouTube envy’ and are looking to global shows to drive viewing numbers. They went on to say they will do more faith-based programming and brushed aside the rivalry with Amazon, instead insisting their real competitor was sleep.

Reed Hastings, CEO of the US-listed streaming service, did an analyst interview in the wake of yesterday’s first quarter results. He said viewing was ‘large and growing’ but flagged the numbers of Google-owned YouTube as much bigger.

“We’ve definitely got YouTube envy and we’ve got a lot a room to go,” he said. “And some of the new shows like Ted [Sarandos] was talking about, our movie out of Korea, has great global potential. So, we’re finding great talent around the world and that’s what drives up the viewing.”

The Netflix chief said the 100 million subs mark it is about to pass is just the beginning in light of YouTube and Facebook’s numbers. “We’re not as deep in international as those companies,” he said. “But we definitely see a big opportunity around the world to just continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is make fantastic content, get people really excited about that content, and then we’re just continuing to grow.”

Discussing programming, content chief Ted Sarandos said that it will go deeper into kids and family content and into faith-based programming, which is seen as an underserved genre.

“We’re trying to find the content that people love and that’s different for everyone,” he said. “The faith-based market is something that we’re engaged on the edges, but we’re looking to do a lot more. And we’re also looking for like our kids and family programming, and the really exciting thing is when you get something that can be viewed by both.”

With Netflix now managing a large slate of US originals, Sarandos was also asked about the effect a possible writers strike would have on its business.

“We may be impacted a little bit less, because we’re not on such a rigid production schedule, where we’re not producing for the fall in the summer, we’re in year round production,” he said. “But some of our productions would be held up in the event of a strike, and our fingers are crossed that won’t happen.”

Sarandos added that broadly, the mix of US and international originals will remain at a ratio of about 80-20.

The SVOD bosses were also asked about competition from Amazon, which is providing ever-fiercer competition in the streaming space.

“They’re doing great programming and they’ll continue to do that,” Hastings said. “But I’m not sure if it will really affect us very much, because the market is just so vast.”

The real competition is not from Amazon or HBO, but from the time people have to consume programming, Hastings said.

“When you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night,” he said. “We’re competing with sleep.”

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