Are there just too many TV shows right now? You may remember that’s what FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told reporters and critics over the summer — that there’s “simply too much television.”
Well, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings doesn’t agree. In fact, when he was asked about Landgraf’s comments today while on-stage at The New York Times’ DealBook conference, Hastings said, “He’s wrong. There’s not nearly enough.”
To back that up, Hastings pointed to the broader growth of consumer spending on entertainment, which he said has been “growing faster than disposable income for decades.”
“We have a lot of choice, but I think if you do great content, you’re going to find viewers,” he said. At the same time, “The bar is definitely rising, there’s no question about it.”
Of course, he’s making these comments as Netflix continues to ramp up its original programming. So one of the audience members, Showtime CEO Matt Blank, asked how he plans to address the challenge of maintaining quality as Netflix produces more shows.
Hastings pointed to the recent launch of “Narcos” as an example where an American company (Netflix) worked with a French company (Gaumont) to film a show in Bogotá, Colombia — and then distributed that show to a global audience.
“We need to go beyond the normal spectrum to get quality,” he said. “I’m hopeful that over time we can make a great Bollywood show, that we can make a great anime show.”
Hastings also clarified recent comments he’d made suggesting that Netflix might start competing with Vice and get into the news business. He said he was thinking about Chelsea Handler’s upcoming TV show: “It’s a talk show about entertainment … It’s not really breaking news, it’s creating news and doing interviews.”
Similarly, he said we shouldn’t expect Netflix to move into sports anytime soon, because, “I have so much to learn about the global movies and TV show picture.”
Another audience member asked Hastings what his strategy would be running one of the major media companies/TV networks. Hastings replied that the focus has to be on “TV everywhere” strategies that bring network content to multiple devices — that’s what he’s always been “most scared of.”
Yes, some of the subscription networks like HBO and Showtime have done a good job here, but Hastings said, “The big system has to figure out TV everywhere.”