Interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (video)

10 Jan 2012

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Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was in Dublin to launch Netflix in Ireland and the UK. He told Siliconrepublic.com editor John Kennedy his Consumer Electronics Show (CES) big bets and predicts that soon all TV will be click and watch.

Netflix launched in the UK and Ireland yesterday, offering viewers the ability to automatically stream unlimited amounts of movies and TV shows for stg£5.99 in the UK and €6.99 in Ireland.

The company counts more than 20m streaming members globally. Last week, Netflix reported that users watched more than 2bn hours of TV shows and movies in the fourth quarter.

In North America, Netflix is the biggest source of web traffic, accounting for around 35pc of total traffic.

In his interview with Siliconrepublic.com, a very relaxed Hastings explained his motivation for starting Netflix in 1997 with co-founder Marc Randolph: "Originally, 14 years ago, DVD was new and exciting and I got a big late fee and it got me thinking about DVD by post in the dot.com days and five years ago we started streaming. It’s just been a rocket ship.

“You can watch as much as you want and it is instant. Low price, great service, on all the consoles."

Netflix CEO and founder Reed Hastings on the future of digital entertainment 

I asked Hastings if streaming was on the original road map when Netflix began initially as a DVD mail service. At the time, the early internet users were all on dial-up, broadband was a few years away yet. "It was on the road map, that’s why we named the company Netflix not DVD by post," he deadpanned. “Once we went from dial-up to broadband it has been growing, and it’s all coming together.

“All TV (eventually) will be click and watch TV, web delivered and built into a smart TV."

Reed Hastings’ CES predictions

Hastings said that if you think an iPad today, that’s exactly how TVs will operate going forward.

He said social media is transforming every single sector of the internet and that Netflix intends to march in step with this. "It’s very exciting when you can see what your friends are watching and it helps you to choose."

Right after our interview Hastings was scheduled to fly straight off to the CES in Las Vegas and I had to ask him what technologies would be hot this year.

“There’s some amazing new TVs, screen sizes will be larger and the devices will be light weight, you can pick them up with one hand. They’ll be like giant iPads."

The kind of TVs Hastings is referring to that have been launched so far at CES this week include the Sharp range of Freestyle TVs that weigh less than five pounds but have screen sizes that stretch from 20 inches up to 60 inches.

“The other (trend) is the real smart TVs that have all the intelligence of an iPad and apps.

“It’s become so easy," he said.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com