Netflix has already won the streaming wars, says Barry Diller

Key Points
  • IAC Chairman Barry Diller said that Netflix has such a large head start that competing streaming services won't be able to catch up.
  • NBCUniversal, AT&T and Disney all plan to launch their own streaming services over the next several months. All of those companies have said they will gain exclusive streaming rights to popular shows and movies they currently license to Netflix.
  • Diller said Disney has the best chance to gain a significant number of subscribers thanks to its library of popular franchises.
Media legend Barry Diller: Don't know who is going to win the streaming wars

The streaming TV wars are over before they've even begun, according to IAC Chariman Barry Diller.

Thanks to Netflix's massive head start and nearly 150 million subscribers, it's unlikely that any of the competing services will be able to catch up, Diller said in an interview Wednesday with CNBC from the Allen & Co. Sun Valley Conference.

"No one is going to compete with Netflix in gross subscribers," Diller said. "I believe they have won the game...There's nothing I can see that's going to dislodge them."

AT&T, NBCUniversal and Disney all plan to launch their own streaming services over the next several months. And they're making moves ahead of those launches to dislodge Netflix's advantage by taking away some of its most popular shows and movies.

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Disney's shows and movies will start leaving Netflix this year, ahead of the Disney+ streaming service launch in November. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal will have exclusive streaming rights to "The Office" in 2021, and AT&T's recently announced HBO Max service will have exclusive streaming rights to "Friends" in 2020. (Both "Friends" and "The Office" are widely considered to be two of the most popular shows on Netflix.)

But even though Netflix is losing a lot of content, Diller said it will be fine. The only company that's likely to make a dent is Disney, thanks to its lineup of popular franchises ranging from "Star Wars" to Pixar movies, he said.

"Disney has the best chance because of its very, very popular content... Will they ever get to Netflix? I don't think so," Diller said. "But I don't think it matters much."