Netflix Doesn't Want Any Part of Apple's New Video Service

Reed Hastings - Getty - H 2019
Ore Huiying/Getty Images for Netflix

"We chose not to integrate," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said of the decision not to sell subscriptions through the computer maker's new video service.

Netflix will not be taking a bite out of Apple’s new video service.

“Apple is a great company, but we’d prefer to have customers watch our content on our service,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Monday, ruling out the possibility of Netflix selling subscriptions through the packages that Apple, which will be unveiling its plans next week, is expected to offer. “We chose not to integrate (into the Apple service)."

Appearing at the streaming giant’s Hollywood facility as part of a two-day Netflix Labs event, during which Netflix shows off its technology and content strategy to the press, Hastings acknowledged the coming challenge not only from Apple but other streaming start-ups like Disney+ and WarnerMedia: “How do we stand up to companies with deep pockets, not to mention Disney with its hugely popular archives? With difficulty. We’ve always had massive competitors and you do your best job when you have great competitors.” He conceded that “those companies will be great competitors,” but then added that Netflix is used to dealing with strong competitors, citing Amazon in particular. 

Pointing out that Netflix spends $1.4 billion per month on content, the exec vowed that “amazing content” will remain the company’s focus.

Netflix has been stingy about releasing viewer data, but since the service is not advertiser-supported, “it doesn’t matter to anyone,” Hastings argued. “Over time, we’ll probably share more than less,” he continued, though he added, “I don’t think it matters to consumers.”

As for the brewing debate at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over whether films that appear on Netflix should also be eligible to compete for Oscars, Hasting suggested that Netflix could adapt to any rules the Academy might stipulate regarding theatrical releases. “We’ll take it case by case,” he said. “Today the rules are the rules. We comply.” He added, “We believe a movie should be judged on artistic merit, not around its windowing strategy.”

Making a brief appearance of his own, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos was asked if the company would consider buying a theater chain, which would ensure theatrical exposure for some of its awards contenders. “I don’t want to be in the movie business. I don't want to operate movie theaters,” he said. 

Looking toward the future, Netflix said it is considering additional content that could make use of interactive capabilities, like its Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. And it also announced a new interactive adventure series, You vs. Wild, which is set to debut April 10.

But it appears to be drawing the line at virtual reality, with Netflix vp product Todd Yellin saying that the company is “not ready to dive head first into VR,” which he said is “not proven” to be a strong platform for storytelling.

According to Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters, who kicked off the presentation, the service currently has 139 million members in 190 countries and is producing content in 30 countries and expanding its dubbing operations to make content available to subscribers in more languages.