Netflix CEO Says He'd Rather Spend Money on HBO and Showtime Than on Original Content

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings praised the long-canceled Fox TV show Firefly, said the show at the top of his streaming wish-list is HBO’s The Wire and said a deal with Starz cable network struck for $30 million in 2008 could be renewed for around $200 million.

Hastings also said he licensed House of Cards from Media Rights Capital in the show’s first window – a streaming deal commentators characterized as Netflix’s foray into original TV programming – because he needs the sort of premium TV content HBO and Showtime are famous for, but those two networks won’t play ball.

“If we can’t spend the money with HBO and Showtime, then we gotta do things like that. But our preference would be to spend that money with HBO and Showtime,” he told host Kara Swisher at the AllThingsD conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. on Wednesday.

Asked why the two networks won’t strike a streaming deal with Netflix, Hastings said: “Check’s not big enough yet.”

He had a similar answer when Swisher asked him to name the one show he wishes Netflix had streaming rights to and he answered The Wire. “It needs a big, big check,” he said.

When Swisher asked about the $200 million figure that analysts have been predicting a new Starz arrangement would cost, Hastings said: “We haven’t done the deal yet, but that wouldn’t be shocking.”

He didn't address public reports that say Starz is seeking $350 million.

Hastings has said often that he’s looking for a few more deals similar to the one for House of Cards, but he wouldn’t divulge details of ongoing negotiations.

Swisher said a colleague wanted her to suggest Firefly, a show Fox canceled almost a decade ago after it ran for just one year. Hastings acknowledged the show is popular among Netflix streamers, but that it would be impractical to create new episodes, given the actors have aged and the sets no longer exist.

 

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