Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is Banking on Broken Relationships
Thousands of people share Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) with their family and friends.
Reed Hastings, Netflix's CEO, isn't too worried about the problem. While this may have surprised some investors, there may be a good reason for his nonchalant attitude.
"He doesn't seem to care because it's not his content," Rich Tullo, Director of Research at Albert Fried & Company, told Benzinga. "He's leasing the content, so if he can convert one or two of those 10 people sharing, what's it to him? That's a good thing for him. Sure he wouldn't care. I wouldn't care either if I were him."
The same cannot be said content makers.
"Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA) cares, obviously, because they pulled Nickelodeon out," said Tullo. "Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) cares because they pulled old movies out. They should care. If Netflix's subscribers are up 25 percent year-over-year but usage is up 30 - 40 percent year-over-year, then all that means is that there's got to be a lot of people sharing -- I call it squatting. Netflix squatting."
Tullo said that if you interview 10 or 15 college kids you may find that only one of them actually pays for the Netflix account they're all using/sharing.
"Sure it's great!" he said. "I would think it's great too if someone was paying and I got all this free TV."
Instead of cracking down on sharing, Tullo believes that Netflix is waiting for fate to take its course.
"Reed Hastings is banking on the fact that the guy breaks up with his girlfriend and he creates an incremental subscription from that because they were sharing and now they're no longer sharing," said Tullo.
"But really, if I'm the content guy, I'm Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), and I've distributed something there… I'm Kevin Spacey, I just produced this great series, they pay me $50 million for it, and I find out that a lot more people watched it than I'm getting credit for, for producing it. They've got the stock up. Reed Hastings is a billionaire, and all I'm paid is $50 million when I could have went straight to video or HBO and get a cut of the action? It's a big deal."
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ
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