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Netflix CEO Says Number of Subscribers Won’t Be a Major Factor in Future of Streaming Wars

Stephanie Sengwe

With 158.3 million paid subscribers around the world (60.6 million in the U.S.), Netflix currently has the largest subscriber base across all streaming platforms right now. However, with the launch of Apple TV+ and Disney+ this year, as well as HBO Max and Peacock next year, CEO Reed Hastings believes that won’t matter.

At The New York Times‘ DealBook conference yesterday, Hastings said that the amount of subscribers will become obsolete over the amount of time spent on any platform. He told moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin, “The real measurement will be time. How do consumers vote with their evenings?”

Though Netflix is a veteran brand in the streaming lane, Hastings also made it clear that they are not going to depend on brand recognition alone to fend off new competition. The streaming service, which just raised $2 billion in debt to fund more content and upped the budget to $15 billion, is still looking to dole out more cash.

No matter how large that content budget gets, however, ads are still not a part of Netflix’s future plans. “It’s a funny thing,” Hastings said. “Disney’s on the board of Hulu. Disney then bought [control of] Hulu. And yet when they go to launch with Disney+, no ads. When you’ve got a lot of insight into the model, you make certain choices. We feel very comfortable doing no ads, like Disney+.”

According to The Verge, Disney will run an ad for Starz when a user finishes signing-up on Disney+ and ESPN+, so it can regain streaming rights to some titles from Starz. Once you’re logged in, however, the platforms will be entirely ad-free.

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