Netflix v HBO: Streaming site chief exec says rivalry will be like the "Yankees and the Red Sox"

Joe Hall
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Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings. (Source: Getty)

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings has a simple message to HBO as the cable TV giant steps into the online streaming market: bring it on.

The American billionaire who also sits on the board of Facebook founded Netflix in 1997 originally as a rental-by-post DVD service before moulding it into the dominant player in the streaming world.

Last week the company announced it has surpassed more than 60m subscribers, a figure that pleased investors as shares soared even in spite of a 55 per cent drop in profits.

In a bid to grab their share of the streaming pie, HBO announced its own over-the-top streaming service last year, HBO Now. The cable channel's high-end productions have made the company millions in DVD sales but have proved to be equally popular on illegal streaming and torrent sites.

With both companies now operating in the streaming market and producing some of the most popular and respected TV shows of the day, Hastings predicted the two companies will be slugging it out for dominance like two famous sporting rivals in an interview with The New York Times.

Hastings said:

It will be like the Yankees and the Red Sox. I predict HBO will do the best creative work of their lives in the next 10 years because they are on war footing. They haven't really had a challenge for a long time, and now they do. It's going to spur us both on to incredible work.

The chief executive argued that HBO had made the right call entering the streaming market, even going so far to say its cable channel would have to change its name to "HBO Linear" as its streaming service becomes the predominant platform from which people view its content.

Reed argues that linear TV has had its day and the next 20 years will be defined by the growth of streaming. Many investors agree - Netflix now has a higher market capacity than traditional media companies such as CBS, Viacom and News Corp.

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