Cable Is Still King, Says Netflix CEO

"Statistically" no one is dropping cable, says Reed Hastings

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Netflix may be winning the Internet, but it's still not loosening the stranglehold of cable TV giants on American consumers, said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at All Things D's D9 conference. Hastings was asked by journalist Kara Swisher if he was "encouraging cord-cutting," which he denied, adding that the cable TV industry is as strong as ever. "Statistically, no one is dropping cable," he said, noting that cable subscriptions increased this year. He said Comcast, the country's largest cable company, was Netflix's greatest competitor and that he was concerned about its new Xfinity app for the iPad. "We have to continue to push the edge on Internet television, because we're a national, and trying to be a global, company." During the Q&A session, a voice in the crowd pushed back saying "I don't care what the stats say, I see kids cutting cable, not getting cable." Reed reiterated that cable subscriptions were not shrinking, "It's not happening... Maybe with some kids, but once kids get a job, they hook up. Maybe in 50, 100 years it's an issue."

The remarks deflate the enthusiasm from tech pundits last month that Netflix is gaining on Comcast, an idea proffered after Netflix announced it doubled its subscribers to 23.6 million while Comcast has 22.8 million customers.

In other moments of the interview, Hastings weighed in on his Netflix wish list (an HBO urban drama that's been getting quite a few shoutouts lately)

Q: What’s the show you really, really want to offer?

A: The Wire. (Right!) But’s it’s an HBO show. Won't get it without a big, big check.

He also spoke about his relationship with content providers and efforts to combat piracy.

Q: You used to be the scourge of Hollywood. Now they like you. Is that just about money?

Hastings: Yes. “The whole relationship thing is overstated.” Pay them and they like you.

Q: Licensing content kills most tech companies. You made it work.”What would you do if you were god” to change rules on content licensing?

A: Well, its worked well for us so far. Content companies want to make money. If you can help them, it works out. We’ve very proud that were outcompeting piracy in the US. Love to see if we can do it in Korea.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.