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Netflix sees a content 'arms race' with HBO

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In a recent investor meeting, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings pronounced HBO its primary competitor because "they're becoming more Netflix-like," and "we're becoming more HBO-like."


You'd think Netflix CEO Reed Hastings would be worried about keeping up to speed with Amazon On Demand, but his sights are aimed a little higher: specifically on HBO and its exclusive programming. He told investors that as the companies' media strategies converge, an "arms race" for exclusive content would ensue between them. Hastings sees HBO Go as a move towards streaming and thinks the company might still move further in that direction, despite recent assertions that it won't cater to the dirty stinking cord-cutters.

The CEO also thinks Netflix exclusives, like House of Cards and Arrested Development, bring the company closer to HBO-style content that distinguishes it from competitors like Hulu and Amazon, and might cause people to subscribe to both HBO and Netflix. It isn't clear why Hastings failed to mention Starz as a major contender — if it moves into streaming without a cable subscription as rumored, it would be closer to Netflix than even HBO, which requires one for its streaming app. Regardless of whether Hastings' assessment turns out to be accurate, competition is often good for customers and Netflix seems to be getting back in the game after a bit of a stumble earlier this year.