Reed Hastings Says Amazon Outbid Netflix for 'Fleabag'

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

Speaking at the RTS Cambridge Convention, the Netflix boss also said the explosion in production costs will soon make mega-budget 'The Crown' "look like a bargain".

The past few weeks may have seen the likes of NBCU, Apple, Disney and WarnerMedia unveil details of their SVOD plans, but for the man behind the company they’re all hoping to catch up with in the streaming space, he was expecting the competition to arrive sooner.

“We’ve been preparing for this moment since 2012 … I’m a little surprised it took this long,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, speaking about the recent SVOD explosion as part of his keynote discussion on the final day of the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention in the U.K.

However, he did admit that a “whole new world” was on the horizon, and that Netflix — which last quarter recorded its first dip in U.S. subscribers — faced “tremendous competition.”

“But sometimes you do your best work when you’re challenged,” Hastings added.

Speaking to a room heavy in U.K. TV execs, he admitted that the influx of new platforms would see a surge in demand for content.

“For you producers, it’s going to be amazing,” he said, adding that bidding wars would erupt between rival streamers to secure new shows.

“Some day The Crown will look like a bargain.”

Headed up by the Emmy-winning royal drama, which returns to screens later this year, Netflix’s U.K. spend has been ramping up significantly, underlined by its recent major deal to set up a permanent hub at Shepperton studios.

Hastings revealed that the company was on track to spend just above £400 million ($500 million) in the U.K. in 2019, a figure that would see a “big increase” but not quite double in 2020.

However, there was one British show that he wished had made it onto Netflix's budget. 

"We got outbid for Fleabag," he admitted, claiming that Phoebe Waller-Bridge's hit Amazon comedy was "the one" that got away.