A few weeks ago during the Netflix earnings call, CEO Reed Hastings asked content chief Ted Sarandos what his the odds were as to whether or not Netflix would have a VICE competitor.
Sarandos replied, “Probably high.”
Unfortunately for Netflix subscribers everywhere, Hastings backtracked a bit on this news just a bit, by saying that Netflix would likely never have a live news broadcast. Among other things, Hastings suggested that Netflix does need more content, and a diversified library, but that live broadcasts such as news and sports just don’t currently fit into Netflix’s business model.
Curiously, this announcement comes in the day after HBO announced that they had signed a deal with Jon Stewart, giving him a broadcast platform on HBO Now. When we polled approximately 300 Netflix subscribers as to who they would prefer to host a news show on Netflix, Stewart’s name topped the list quite easily.
With that in mind, it’s curious that the timing of Netflix backtracking ever so slightly, which leads us to believe that Netflix was hoping to land a huge name, specifically in this case Stewart’s, to bring his name and reputation to a Netflix news program. With Stewart’s new deal with HBO, it might be possible that Netflix lost in a bidding war to the premium service.
Keep in mind, Hastings did specifically say he didn’t envision live broadcasts on Netflix, this leaves a huge opportunity still to keep working to build a daily or weekly program offering similar to HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” which maintains relevance for at least a week, and can be streamed at any time through the HBO Now and Go apps.
It seems likely that Netflix will continue to explore creating a weekly series in some capacity, but details remain sparse.