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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says movies are a hard business because you can’t binge watch them

Bringing live sports to the internet is also hard.

Reed Hastings, Netflix, Code 2017 Asa Mathat

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings thinks making movies and making TV shows are pretty similar.

Distributing those two products? That’s where things get stickier.

Hastings has built a business on consumers who love to binge watch television shows, including shows that Netflix has created, like “House of Cards.” The company’s original movies, though, haven’t taken off quite as fast.

“Binge viewing is a very novel thing that we pioneered, and there’s no movie equivalent,” explained Hastings, who spoke Wednesday at Recode’s annual Code Conference. “[With] things like ‘Breaking Bad,’ it was transformative to be able to go back to the beginning and binge view it. So we concentrated on where we had the most competitive advantage, that’s binge viewing.”

One of Netflix’s original films, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: II,” for example, didn’t bring in as many viewers as Hastings would have hoped, given the cost to produce the film.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ve been amazingly successful at series and we’re just getting started on movies,” he added.

Hastings says that won’t stop Netflix from experimenting with films, and that he thinks there isn’t a firm line between creating TV shows and creating movies, though there are some creative benefits that come with a TV series.

“The great thing with TV shows is you’ve got more time as a creator for character development, so you can get to know the characters more,” he said.

Another thing that’s a hard business: Live sports on the internet. Hastings says he isn’t yet sold that live sports, like NFL games streaming on places like Twitter and Amazon, can translate to the internet.

“Sports is really good in the moment, so you want to watch the game, but the after-life of a given [game] is quite small,” he said. “The internet doesn’t yet add much value to the sports experience.”

Netflix has a lot of money, though; why not just experiment with live sports anyway, like Amazon is?

“We’re not trying to meet all needs,” Hastings said. “Amazon’s business strategy is super broad ... They’re trying to be Walmart, we’re trying to be Starbucks.”

Watch the full interview at Recode’s Code Conference below.

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