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Facebook has big plans for its video business. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is on Facebook’s board. Discuss.

There’s no conflict yet, apparently. But down the road ...

The New Yorker TechFest 2016 Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New Yorker
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Facebook has been headed this way for a couple years, but now it’s saying it out loud: It wants to be in the TV business. Mark Zuckerberg said so yesterday during the company’s Q4 earnings call.

Right now, that’s still a statement of intent rather than a specific plan. Facebook is still trying to figure out what kind of video it wants to have on the site, how much it wants to buy itself, how it’s going to show ads and lots of other details.

This won’t happen overnight.

But now that it’s out in the open, here’s a question: What does Reed Hastings think about this?

I’m asking because the Netflix CEO is on Facebook’s board, a position he’s held since 2011. And no matter what route Facebook takes to build its TV/video business, it seems obvious that it will overlap with the TV/video business Netflix already has.

Even if Facebook ends up with a very different TV/video business model from Netflix — if, say, Facebook concentrates on free, ad-supported TV versus Netflix’s ad-free subscription business — the two companies will inevitably end up bumping into each other. Facebook is already in the market for TV shows and other video programming, albeit at a much smaller scale than Netflix.

I’ve asked Facebook and Netflix about this overlap, whether it has prompted Hastings to remove himself from any board meetings and whether he can continue to hold the seat down the line. No comment from either company.

It seems reasonable to assume that there will be a real conflict, one day. On the other hand, this isn’t the first time a Netflix executive has worked closely with a company that intends to get into video. Last fall, Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos joined the board of Spotify, the music subscription service that wants to build up its own video business.

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