Netflix CEO Reed Hastings isn’t worried about the world being flooded with too much TV.
In fact, he doesn’t think there’s enough.
Speaking at The New York Times DealBook Conference on Tuesday, Hastings was asked by the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin about the assessment from FX Networks CEO John Landgraf that there’s simply too much TV being made right now.
“He’s wrong. There’s not nearly enough,” Hastings said on Tuesday.
Landgraf, speaking at the Television Critics Association in August, said that with 2015 on track to produce more than 400 original scripted TV series, “This is simply too much television. My sense is that 2015 or 2016 will represent peak TV in America, and that we’ll begin to see declines coming the year after that and beyond.”
And so since then this has sort of been the comment around which much of the conversation in media revolves: how much content is too much, and how much is too much to spend for it?
Sorkin pressed Hastings on the issue of “too much content” and framed it around a consumer that is flooded with choices and is simply overwhelmed by the number of shows their friends, TV critics, and the media declare “great TV.”
To Hastings, though, this is something we see across a broader spectrum than just entertainment and it simply is what it is: we are in a world of great choice.
“You know, there’s a lot more food than ever before, there’s a lot more choice,” Hastings added. “But I think when you do great content you’re going to find viewers.”
Hastings added, “Again, it comes back to entertainment spending. And entertainment spending has been increasing faster than disposable income for decades. And I think as we come up with new experiences, when you look at virtual reality and how that’s going to improve video gaming, you’re just seeing continued investment in entertainment.”
And in this Hastings was expanding on an idea he’d touched on just earlier in the interview about how he sees spending on entertainment not as something that stays constant or shrinks with competition but in fact grows.
Basically Hastings doesn’t think a dollar spent on Netflix is a dollar not spent on an ESPN over-the-top offering, but believes there’s enough demand for entertainment that both of these dollars can — and will — be spent.
On Monday, I argued that CBS’ announcement that it would reboot “Star Trek” and show it on its own in-house Netflix-like CBS All Access service was a big win for Netflix.
And this argument is more or less an idea cribbed from the Reed Hastings theory of media’s future: there will be tons of apps producing tons of content, so the goal is to have the best content, not to worry about what else exists.
Earlier in Tuesday’s interview, Hastings sketched out that future vision of TV, and he said that you’re basically going to have a collection of HBO’s. And so it seems to me that this is what Netflix is aiming for, this is what CBS’ All Access offering more or less amounts to, and this is where the industry is going.
There’s going to be lots of content, this content is going to be available wherever you are, on whatever device you want, at whatever time you want.
You can (and should!) watch Hastings’ full interview with Sorkin below. His comments on “too much content” start at around the 7-minute mark.
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