Netflix CEO: BBC, others will be ‘internet networks’

Traditional broadcasters like the BBC and ZDF will become “internet networks” as the TV industry goes in the same way as the fixed-line phone market, according to Reed Hastings.

Reed HastingsSpeaking at the DLD conference in Munich yesterday, the Netflix founder and CEO said that in a generation or two, the concept of scheduled linear broadcasts such as 6pm news slots will “just seem alien”.

“It’s an on-demand world; we live around the clock on our mobile phones, so I think that will fade away,” said Hastings.

“Think of how [the] mobile phone replaced the fixed line phone over 30 years – a little bit, percentage[-wise], every year. That’s what we’re seeing with internet television slowly replacing linear television. It will be generational.”

He added: “Now linear TV networks like the BBC, or here in Germany ZDF, are adapting and putting their content on the internet and making it available. I think what we’ll see is networks around the world converting to become internet networks.”

Discussing the company’s decision to do original programming as a sideline to its main content distribution model, Hastings said: “We’re evolving to do more and more production [and] commissioning, so think of Netflix as producing shows around the world and then sharing them.”

He also said that Netflix would continue to pursue a launch in China – the one notable absence from the company’s 130-country global expansion earlier this month.

Hastings said that Netflix will follow Apple’s example, whereby the company “talked and built relationships” for six years from 2005 – 2011 before it was able to launch the iPhone there.

“What we take away from that is a sense of great patience. It may be soon that we get a licence for China, or it may take a few years, but we’re going to be very patient and we’re looking forward to a time a decade or two decades from now when the Chinese middle class will want and embrace the content that we have,” said Hastings.