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Netflix users 'don't really care' whether content is created by Netflix, co-CEO says

Max Zahn with Andy Serwer
·3-min read

Despite a coronavirus shutdown this year that temporarily halted most TV production, Netflix plans to release even more originals in 2021 than in 2020 — which would mark the latest achievement for a company’s whose massive investment in original content inspires both envy and ridicule.

But users don’t care whether the company produces content in-house or brings it to the platform from other creators, Netflix Co-CEO and Co-Founder Reed Hastings told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview. In turn, the company doesn’t care either, he added, instead prioritizing the quality and range of its content.

“Consumers don't really care how we do it,” he said on Sept. 3. “What they care is that we have some of the best series and the best films that anyone's ever produced.”

“We care really about what are the options that we have for consumers, rather than how and who produces it,” he adds.

Last year, Netflix spent $15 billion on content, which put its investment even with ViacomCBS (VIAC) but behind Comcast (CMCSA) at $15.4 billion and Disney (DIS), which shelled out $27.8 billion — according to data compiled by Variety. The streaming giant will up its spend this year to $17.3 billion, most of which will go toward original content, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Dan Salmon in January.

Netflix made headlines last week when it inked a multi-year production deal with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle for a slew of original programming. The agreement, which drew comparisons to one the company signed in 2018 with Barack and Michelle Obama, reportedly pays the royal couple more than $100 million.

Emphasizing the company’s mix of original and licensed programming, Hastings pointed to hit shows like “Stranger Things” and “The Crown,” which Netflix created entirely in-house; but he also noted shows like “Lucifer” and “You,” which the company acquired from other outlets but added additional seasons for the streaming platform.

Hastings spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

Over the past year, Netflix has faced a number of new competitors in streaming, including Disney Plus, HBO Max (T), Peacock, and Apple TV (AAPL). Plus, Hulu and Amazon Prime (AMZN) remain significant challengers.

Netflix added nearly 26 million subscribers over the first six months of this year, bringing its total subscribers worldwide to about 193 million. By comparison, Disney Plus had 60.5 million subscribers worldwide as of Aug. 3 — though the platform has operated for a far shorter time, having launched last November.

Founder and CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings is pictured during a Netflix event on March 1, 2017 in Berlin. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Founder and CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings is pictured during a Netflix event on March 1, 2017 in Berlin. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Asked if he worries about deep-pocketed competitors like Apple and Amazon that have entered into original programming in recent years, Hastings said Netflix focuses on what it can do to improve its own service.

“They're doing a lot of things that are interesting, but we're focused on being a great entertainment company,” he says.

“We're never going to be all of entertainment,” he adds. “Other people are going to do other shows.”

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