Reed Hastings to the rest of the TV industry: Give up, just focus on news and sports

Key Points
  • Netflix says the future of television will be mainly news and sports.
  • Netflix predicts linear cable networks will abandon on-demand programming for live events.
Netflix spending 'intelligently' to boost subscriber growth: Strategist
Netflix spending 'intelligently' to boost subscriber growth: Strategist

Netflix has a prediction: The future of live television is Rupert Murdoch's "New Fox."

"New Fox" is the company that will exist after Fox sells $71.3 billion of its assets to Disney. It's basically Fox's broadcast channel, its owned and operated affiliate networks, Fox News, Fox Business, and its national Fox Sports channels. Some in the industry also suspect New Fox may buy back the 22 regional sports networks it agreed to sell Disney if there isn't a higher bidder.

Netflix said in its earnings statement on Tuesday that "New Fox appears to have a great strategy, which is to focus on large simultaneous-viewing sports and news." The company goes on to say, "Other linear networks are likely to follow this model over time."

In other words, Netflix believes there are going to be a bunch of on-demand services, which will be delivered over the Internet, and then there's going to be TV, which will deliver you live events such as news and sports.

The technician who called for a Netflix drop now sees this
The technician who called for a Netflix drop now sees this

That means Disney and Comcast's NBCUniversal would split their assets between using their content for streaming and TV.

And linear TV networks that don't focus on news and sports would have to change or be eliminated. That's a heck of a lot of cable networks — pretty much any network that doesn't have news or sports. Almost every channel Viacom and Discovery own in the U.S. fall into that category, for instance.

There's certainly some self-interest in this prediction — New Fox doesn't compete with Netflix.

But Netflix says outright that it wants to dominate your entertainment hours. Its long-term strategy statement talks about winning people's "moments of truth" when they decide to watch Netflix rather than enjoying "a shared experience with friends and family."

More practically, Netflix wants to make sure you're subscribing to Netflix, perhaps at the expense of another streaming service (of which there are many) or traditional television.

"Amid these massive competitors on both sides, plus traditional media firms, our job is to make Netflix standout so that when consumers have free time, they choose to spend it with our service," Netflix writes.

According to today's earnings report, Netflix should have more than 175 million subscribers by the time Disney and WarnerMedia's online streaming services launch. That's a huge head start to dominate the streaming world — a world Netflix assumes will be its battleground while linear TV morphs into a niche product.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, CNBC's parent company.

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