Netflix CEO: I Want My HBO!

At the AllThingsD conference Wednesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings expressed lots of love for the high-end content produced by premium cable stars HBO and Showtime. And even as Netflix passes Showtime in subscribers and nears HBO's membership figures, the channels remain serious competition to Netflix thanks to their impressive collections of original content: Game of Thrones, True Blood, Dexter, the list goes on.

Such high quality original content, remember, inspired Netflix to license its own original series, House of Cards, for a reported $100 million, outbidding AMC and HBO. But as Hastings told audience members Wednesday, he'd much prefer to spend that money on series from Showtime and HBO—but they won't take Netflix's checks.

Though Netflix does offer some Showtime and HBO content via DVD, the best content and series are not available for streaming online. That's exactly where HBO and Showtime have a leg-up. So when citing the company's main competition, Hastings mentioned TV Everywhere and Comcast's Xfinity app—two streaming applications that give consumers the ability to stream premium On-Demand content from HBO and Showtime. (The other app missing from the list is, of course, HBO Go, which is truly giving Netflix's mobile app a run for its money.)

Still, Hastings indicated that licensing House of Cards and other serialized shows would gives Netflix its own advantage over competitors. He added that Netflix hasn't given up on licensing HBO and Showtime content—eventually the deals will go through if the checks are big enough, he said.

And a big check is exactly what Hastings said he'd need for one show in particular. When asked during the Q&A portion what show he'd really like to offer subscribers, Hastings (perhaps unsurprisingly) said, "[HBO's] The Wire."

[Image: Flickr user AnnaT]

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  • Jonathan

    I'm a Time Warner cable subscriber - not by choice but due to where I live and there being no satellite options in my building.  I also love HBO and Showtime, but don't get them because TWC is already fleecing me for basic cable by bundling local phone service (which I don't want) with overpriced Internet.   In short, I don't want to pay TWC any more than they are already getting for a pretty blah lineup + wifi.

    On the flip side, I do pay for Netflix and would happily pay a premium for HBO/Showtime type of content, sidestepping having to pay TWC.  The problem isn't Netflix... it's the traditional cable carriers who make 3 bills a month per customer redistributing advertising-supported channels.

  • Elaine Ellis

    Netflix seems to be missing a lot of premium content from it's streaming options. While that frustrates me to end as a viewer (what no Jurassic Park?), it seems wise for HBO and Showtime to keep the streaming content to themselves.