Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: Netflix and HBO Are Not Competitors

The two services are complementary not competitive, Bewkes said on Tuesday.

Comparisons between Netflix and HBO were inevitable once Netflix began aspiring to be HBO, but Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a simple request: stop it.

Bewkes argued Netflix was a complementary service rather than a competitor during USB’ Conference on Tuesday in New York.

“These are complimentary services. The viewing of HBO in Netflix homes is higher than your average home,” Bewkes said, adding interest in Netflix is also higher in homes that subscribe to HBO.

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The instinct to compare the two companies is natural. Netflix began by aggregating a large library of movies for rent by mail before reinventing itself as a subscription streaming service for movies and TV.

It then began commissioning original series, which is how HBO separated itself from other purveyors of first-run movies. They now compete for a similar pool of intelligent filmmakers that HBO covets, whether it’s David Fincher or Mike White.

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Netflix’s first crop of originals — “Arrested Development,” “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” — are all shows one could see on HBO.

Heck, at the end of Netflix’s most recent earnings release, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote this:

“We have done well but we have a long way to go to match HBO’s 114 million global member count or their well-deserved Emmy award leadership. Title by title, device by device, member by member, award by award, country by country, we are making progress.”

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Bewkes would at least agree HBO is the market leader.

“We have the strongest content we’ve ever had,” he said, emphasizing HBO’s rights to studio movies past 2020, a “bigger and stronger” slate of original shows than ever before and the “superiority” of HBO Go’s VOD platform.

As for Netflix?

It “provides some good shows,” Bewkes said, but it’s mostly a library.

No competition at all.