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Reed Hastings Downplays Standalone Amazon Prime Video Service

18 Apr, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

CCO Ted Sarandos said he’s keen on distributing original movies on The Screening Room

On the heels of Amazon announcing it is offering for the first time Prime Video as a separate monthly subscription streaming service, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the move is no different than Hulu and Showtime OTT offering special rates with select pay-TV operators.

Hastings, without mentioning Amazon by name, said the move underscores growth in the overall Internet TV market — at the expense of linear TV — and not much of a threat to Netflix.

With Comcast Cable to begin offering select original content from Crackle.com, Sony Pictures' ad-supported over-the-top streaming service, the separation between pay-TV and OTT continues to shrink. 

“There are so many [SVOD] competitors. Everyone is working hard to build the best content [distribution system],” Hastings said on the April 18 webcast.

CCO Ted Sarandos said Netflix would be interested in distributing theatrical movies via The Screening Room, the premium VOD startup from Napster co-founder Sean Parker that wants to make new studio theatrical releases simultaneously available in the home for $50.

“We wouldn’t mind having our films available on that product,” Sarandos said.

Hastings said the SVOD pioneer remains “very excited about what we’re doing,” which he said includes expanding the number of original series and original movies available to a global subscriber base. Netflix upped its third-party content license obligations 25% to $12.3 billion.

“This is all part of the natural evolution from linear TV to Internet TV,” Hastings said, alluding to Prime Video’s restricted standalone access to the U.S. market only.

When asked about Amazon’s discussions with programmers about adding linear channels to its on-demand streaming service, Hasting again remained on script. He said Netflix is focused on global competition (Prime Video is limited to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan), with an equal split between international/domestic revenue on the horizon.

“Which is why we’re investing in original movies, original series, and also producing around the world, [such as] French series ‘Marseilles,’ and Spanish series ‘Narcos,’” Hastings said.

“That’s very different from carrying other people’s single-nation networks. So, that’s just a very different business. It’s not one we focus on a lot. We know where we want to be, which is a great global producer and distributor of content. Other people will do other things. And that’s fine and maybe very successful.”

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