Apple is coming after streaming TV, and they are coming at lightning speed with a huge budget pushing R&D. If the current market players are concerned, don’t count Netflix CEO Reed Hastings among them. The notoriously cavalier Hastings claims he’s not worried about Apple at all. Hubris? Maybe. We’ll see. The market isn’t feeling the love. Recently, shares of Netflix fell 8 percent after the news that Apple is considering a move into original streaming programming. That programming would almost certainly compete against Netflix, Amazon Prime and others.
Hastings remained defiant. “Other people are doing shows too,” CNN quoted Hastings as saying, “HBO is doing shows, FX is doing shows … so the fact that additional tech companies may be doing shows that’s really not that big of a deal given the total number of shows being produced …”
Maybe Hastings has a right to be cocky. After all, two of Netflix’s original series – Orange is the New Black and House of Cards – proved to be huge hits, and others, such as Daredevil, got better than expected fan reactions. So far, Netflix is doing better than well with its original programming. So maybe Apple has more ground to make up than prognosticators – and the market – realize.
Confidence can be a good thing, particularly when you can back it up. Hastings told CNN he is proud of “great shows” such as Narcos, a new program that dramatizes the history of cocaine trafficking. Then there’s the rapid international growth. Netflix just launched in Japan, and Hastings insists there are plans in the works to be across “every country” in Asia sometime in 2016.
All of these are reasons for Netflix to celebrate, but patting yourself on the back as a front-runner can present opportunities for up and comers to sneak close and even past you in the race. Coasting, particularly in an industry booming like streaming video is, is a great way to find yourself going from leader to also-ran in a flash. Just ask BlackBerry.