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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on global opportunity, subscriber addition and competition

Hastings thinks the company’s net adds this year will be more than last year

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MUMBAI: With Disney all set to enter the direct-to-consumer business with its streaming app, Netflix missing its subscriber addition forecast globally along with losing subscribers in the domestic market is likely to be trouble. Although stocks of the FANG company stumbled as an aftermath of the Q2 result, Netflix is confident of getting back on track in the next quarter. Talking to investors in an earnings call after the Q2 result, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings also showed confidence in global subscriber additions, upcoming competition and the positive impact of streaming war.

Here are the edited excerpts:

Global opportunity:

Well, we do wonder, in the fullness of time, can we be as big as YouTube? YouTube is 7x larger than us roughly in viewing hours, and a phenomenal service. Of course, it's free. So the real question is can we produce enough content that people are willing to pay for? If you look at benchmarks, it's about 700 million households that pay for television outside of China, so that would be kind of the equivalent of the US, 100 million, so that's one established market.

Now, do we have enough content in each of those countries? Most of that is local content that gets consumed. But the internet is capable of some very large customer bases, as you, I'm sure, know well. So we'll just take it year-by-year and try to have our net adds continue to grow. We still think our net adds this year will be larger than last year. We'll keep pushing on that. And what we want to do is just grow the net adds every year and then the future takes care of itself.

Streaming War:

It's never been a better world for talent. They get to bid themselves off between us, Disney, Amazon, etc. So there's a real battle for who will pay for content around the world, but it's not a zero-sum competition. I think everybody gets that people will subscribe to multiple shows. Add wage -- most Netflix employees are HBO subscribers. We love the content they do and that spurs us to want to be even better. So it's a great competition that helps grow the industry. And the advantage of having something catchy like streaming wars is it draws more attention. And because of that, people, consumers shift more quickly from linear TV to the streaming TV.

Product partnerships for Stranger Things:

Well, we're monetising it today in more membership growth. The focus is to get more people excited about Stranger Things. So they join Netflix. They tell their friends about it. So this year, we'll add about $5 billion of incremental subscription revenue, which is almost all of the gross margin, and that's faster than any entertainment company has grown in the history of the world. So what we want to do is keep that engine going, keep that subscriber engine going and not get distracted with alternative revenue sources which just don't add up when you're growing $5 billion a year. So the core focus is to create all these merchandising opportunities, tie-ins, touch points so that you feel the Stranger Things energy so that more people join. So together, as we do monetise all that, it's just we're monetising it through our giant engine rather than through little sidecar vehicles.

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