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Netflix Taking Dead Aim at HBO

Netflix Taking Dead Aim at HBO

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is taking dead aim at HBO.

While Hastings respects what HBO has accomplished, he is hardly in awe of it and seems to see the Time Warner (TWX) unit as a blueprint for what Netflix (NFLX) can next accomplish. Hastings, flush from a successful earnings period and the benefit of presiding over a hot stock once again, is getting his swagger back.

“The network that we think likely to be our biggest long-term competitor-for-content is HBO…They have global reach and strengthening capacity,” Hastings wrote in a recent 11-page essay. Peter Kafka of AllThingsD dubs it Hastings’ “We’re-coming- for-you” tome.

Could it be true? Can Netflix, fresh off the big win of its original House of Cards show eventually leapfrog past HBO, which has had DECADES of experience in producing brilliant homegrown dramas and comedies, documentaries and all the rest.

Why not?

The great thing about Hollywood is that it does not discriminate. It’s like the medical world. Nobody has to go to school for 10 years, get certified and do internships before becoming a practicing doctor. You can be a Larry David, who has a twist on the sit-com, and create a sensation with the Seinfeld show. Or you can be David Chase, who turns the old Mafia story on its head and comes up with The Sopranos. Four privileged women hang out together in New York and become … Sex and the City, a pop-culture signpost and another HBO phenomenon.

It’s all about having the idea. That’s where the magic happens.

So, why couldn’t Netflix make its mark on an HBO level? It has to keep re-inventing itself. It is no longer going to be content to be identified as Blockbuster’s smarter successor.

What Reed Hastings wants now is something more simple and blunt. 

He wants world domination.

  • “The network that we think likely to be our biggest long-term competitor-for-content is HBO … They have global reach and strengthening technology capacity.”
  • But while Netflix now has as many U.S. subscribers as HBO — and while Hastings thinks he can eventually double or triple his current 30 million — he figures it will take him a while to truly compete with HBO. “While we are passing HBO in domestic members in 2013, it will be several years before we are peers with them in terms of Original programming, Emmy awards, and international members. It wouldn’t be surprising to us if HBO does their best work and achieves their highest growth
    over the next decade, spurred on by the Netflix competition and the Internet TV opportunity.”

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