Barry Diller Says Netflix Has Conquered the Studios: ‘Hollywood Is Now Irrelevant’

“Those who chase Netflix are fools,” IAC chairman says in Recode interview

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Former Paramount and Fox chief Barry Diller believes Netflix has toppled the old studio guard that has ran show business for decades, saying that “Hollywood is now irrelevant.”

“Hollywood is now irrelevant,” Diller told Kara Swisher on the latest Recode Decode podcast. Diller said the industry was long run by six movie companies — Disney, Universal, Warner Bros. Paramount, Columbia and 20th Century Fox — that were capable of acquiring any major competitors. That’s now changed, with tech giants like Netflix and Amazon moving into the space. “For the first time, they ain’t buying anything. Meaning they’re not buying Netflix. They are not buying Amazon,” Diller said.

“In other words, it used to be if you could get your hands on a movie studio, you were sitting at a table with only five other people,” Diller continued. “And so that table dominated media worldwide. That’s over.”

The ex-entertainment exec and current chairman of InterActive Corp said that all of the major studios are going to make a “play” for streaming viewers, but “those who chase Netflix are fools.”

Netflix reported last month that it added nearly 9 million customers to close the fourth quarter of 2018 — a company record for a single quarter — bringing its global subscriber count to 139 million.

Diller added that Amazon, which is able to combine its video service with several other perks for its Prime customers, is playing a different game than traditional studios are able to play. Amazon’s business model is a foreign concept to Hollywood, which has always focused strictly on how to “entertain the folks,” Diller said.

Despite Diller’s warning, a few heavy hitters are preparing to launch new streaming services in 2019. Disney is set to debut Disney+, its streaming answer to Netflix, later this year, while Apple, after signing deals with several stars, including Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg, is readying its own content push.

Diller lauded Disney CEO Bob Iger as a “super executive,” but said he only believes Disney+ will do “okay.” As for Apple, Diller said they’re “prancing around” and haven’t fully committed to taking on Netflix.

“They’ll get some subscribers. But to chase … Netflix has won this game. I mean, short of some existential event, it is Netflix’s [game],” Diller said. “No one can get, I believe, to their level of subscribers, which gives them real dominance.”