Liberty Media CEO: Netflix could be partner

Relationships 'core business for content companies'

NEW YORK -- Is Netflix a friend or foe for entertainment companies as it continues to expand beyond DVD rentals by-mail into online streaming?

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei on Thursday suggested the relationship is currently one of "coopetition," or competition and cooperation at the same time.

To Liberty and its Starz business, Netflix is "potentially" a long-term threat, but also "a potential partner for the long-term," he told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference here.

He said relationships with cable TV, satellite and telco distribution partners are still core business and key for content companies.

"We need to maintain a relationship with them that's positive," Maffei said. He added that one of the biggest challenges is to "find a way to accommodate digital demand from end users...without alienating unduly our traditional partners."

Time Warner CEO John Martin in his Goldman appearance was also asked about Netflix and whether its recent streaming content deals make it an HBO competitor. "We take every level of competition very, very seriously," he said before arguing that HBO is in a "pretty enviable position" thanks to its own Hollywood content deals and its focus on original programming that is bigger than ever before. Martin called that a "critical differentiator."

Overall, "we feel really good about the competitive position of HBO," he said.
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