Netflix isn't revolutionary but has improved television, says CEO

‘Revolution not evolution’ is a trope that's been appended to many a gadget and technology service - hello iPhone - but rarely has the reverse been said by a CEO, until Netflix’s Reed Hastings this week. 

He spoke to Business Insider with refreshing candor, explaining that he didn't see Netflix as a revolutionary service but one that has evolved TV and if we wanted to see a revolution then that's what YouTube was doing - but that didn't mean that Netflix wasn't making TV better. 

“It's much more evolutionary than revolutionary,” said Hastings. “‘Revolutionary’ would be more like YouTube with its open platform. And there's good and bad in revolutions.

“I would say we've much improved television,” Hastings continued. “People still watch 45-minute shows on television, but now on Netflix. That's not a huge revolution - but that's a big improvement and that's important.”

Joy, happiness, entertainment

Improvement is a word that Hastings and Netflix seem serious about and are willing to spend money to make sure that improvements are made. As he notes, a big part is the talent the service attracts. 

“It's about bringing people joy and happiness and entertainment,” Hastings explained. “That's the member-oriented version of it. The artistic vision is gathering together the world's best storytellers, from all over the world - so people can share content.”

Another aspect is how people use the service, and he’s finding that TV is a better fit for the platform, despite Netflix’s big push into movies - and reckons The End of the F***ing World is his favorite show at the moment.

“For serialised content the internet is fantastic. It's like a 10 times better experience than when it's only at Sundays at 8 o'clock on linear,” Hastings said.

“But for movies, it's only a little bit better. You've got things like pay-per-view, etc. On Netflix however, it's all flat-fee, so it's a little bit nicer. But it's not a revolution in the movie experience.”

Despite merely being an ‘evolution’ Hastings admits that there is still “lots of resistance” from broadcasters but does point to change, citing the company’s recent deal with Sky and how that proves that perceptions are shifting. 

“We recently did a deal with Sky, but for many years we were competitors. Turns out we're just another network with great content. And now they are going to carry us.”

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.