Netflix’s CEO is ready for linear TV to die

Netflix desires linear TV to die. CEO Reed Hastings has been banging the TV homicide drum for greater than 8 years now, and within the investor call today, he reiterated his perception, confidently saying that Netflix was in an amazing place as a result of linear TV can be useless in “5 to 10 years.”

Hastings is financially incentivized to say this. One of many greatest opponents for the most important streaming service on the planet is the set of completely free streaming channels that beam into any TV with an antenna, and their costlier buddies on cable TV.

Netflix wants linear TV to die as a result of it wants the streaming holdouts nonetheless utilizing linear TV. It shed a whopping 1.3 million subscribers throughout the US and Canada within the final three months, in keeping with its 2022 Q2 earnings report. With greater than 220 million paying prospects worldwide, it’s primarily discovered as many subscribers as it may. It’s making efforts to achieve subscribers: it is acquired its incoming ad-supported tier (which received’t embody all of the content material you get now), and it’s going to attempt to finish the follow of account sharing—forcing sharers to subscribe or go with out streaming to any display greater than a laptop computer. However if you’ve mainly acquired as many subscribers as you may presently, you want your opponents (linear TV, YouTube, TikTok, the good outdoor, and so forth.) to do worse. So sure, after all, Hastings desires linear TV to kick the bucket.

However is it actually going to occur? TV viewership numbers are down, that’s completely sure. After the elevated quantity of unique content material on cable TV got here within the 2010s, the market fragmented, and the ability of the published TV stations waned. Gray’s Anatomy continues to be one of the most watched shows in the USA regardless of going from a median of 20 million viewers per episode to… 4 million.

However broadcast TV remains to be… you understand… free. You don’t should pay for web after which pay a subscription payment (or 12) on high of it. You possibly can simply flip in your TV, and offered you’ve acquired a adequate antenna, get loads of good content material — the content material that Netflix is determined and struggling to recreate by itself service. The Workplace, Buddies, Gray’s Anatomy, and CW’s complete lineup of adlescent dramas have been persistently a few of Netflix’s most consumed content material earlier than licensing agreements noticed them bounce off to different companies.

Broadcast TV can also be about to get a significant improve within the type of ATSC 3.0. Whereas its rollout has been glacial, the brand new customary for broadcast tv guarantees every kind of high quality enhancements that streaming fees a premium for—if it might probably present in any respect. ATSC 3.0 helps 4K, and 120 frames per second, huge coloration gamut, and HDR. Netflix presently fees $19.99 a month for that, and HBO Max has been so sluggish to roll out 4K I typically query if it even is aware of what 4K is.

And broadcast TV is just one (free) component of linear TV. There are additionally all of the cable channels that we nonetheless subscribe to despite the fact that streaming was supposed to avoid wasting us from outrageous charges and supporting content material we now have no real interest in consuming. Whereas viewership is down, cable stays the least obnoxious method to watch sports activities, and it is the quickest and most high-quality service for watching TV that’s in any other case restricted to a single app that will or will not be any good, and positively prices you greater than you need to pay.

Plus, there’s the truth that virtually not one of the huge streamers have managed to match certainly one of linear TV’s most soothing options: the entire linear airing of content material factor. A endless stream you may tune out and in of at leisure, and that may work as mild background noise in your day-to-day life. I lengthy for one thing so simple as the power to make playlists on Netflix and as a substitute get an app that forgets I began Persuasion the evening earlier than.

Linear TV is struggling compared to Netflix. However how is linear TV imagined to die when streaming continues to have so many points and struggles to compete on the hyper common content material entrance? It feels extra like streaming is chasing after linear TV and whispering “die already.” However whether or not it dies within the 5- to 10-year window that Reed Hastings needs stays to be seen.

Disclosure: The Verge lately produced a sequence with Netflix.

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