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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says the obvious: He won’t be working with Apple when it launches its new video plans

In other news: Turns out Netflix is not a tech company, Hastings says.

Reed Hastings onstage in front of a sign reading “Netflix.”
CEO Reed Hastings at a Netflix event on April 18, 2018, in Rome.
Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images for Netflix
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.

Apple is planning a big announcement to unveil its new video strategy next week, and there is a long list of unknowns about Apple’s plans. Now we know one thing: Netflix won’t be a part of them.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed Monday that the company won’t be selling subscriptions to its video service through a hub that Apple plans on launching, similar to one that Amazon already uses to sell video subscription services like HBO and Showtime. Facebook is working on a similar plan.

“Apple’s a great company. We want to have people watch our shows on our services,” Hastings said at a press event Monday in Los Angeles.

That’s 100 percent unsurprising, since Netflix has been steadily disengaging with Apple over the last few years — which happens to be the same period that Apple has been ramping up its interest in video.

In 2016, for instance, when Apple launched a new “TV” app, designed to be a digital TV guide, Netflix never signed on. And late last year, Netflix stopped selling subscriptions to its service via Apple’s store. Asked Monday about that move, Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos shrugged and said Apple hadn’t been an important revenue source for his company.

Asked repeatedly about how Netflix would compete with a new host of competitors, including Apple, Disney, and AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Hastings used variations of riffs he has used in the past: Competition is great for Netflix, consumers, and content makers.

After saying he would compete with the new entrants “with difficulty,” Hastings switched to a more optimistic answer: “These are amazing, large, well-funded companies … but you do your best job when you have great competitors.”

Hastings has said this for years when asked about competitors like HBO and Amazon. He has also said, correctly, that those services have grown while Netflix has grown, so his success doesn’t have to come at their expense.

What’s different now is the sheer array of services trying to sell video subscriptions directly to consumers, like Hastings has been doing for years. And it is hard to imagine that all of them will succeed at once.

It’s technically possible that some people will be interested in subscribing to, say, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, WarnerMedia, Apple, Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, HBO, Showtime, Starz, and CBS All Access. But there won’t be many of those people. Some of these services won’t win.

In other news: While investors have grouped Netflix alongside giant, valuable consumer tech companies including Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, Hastings says his company isn’t really a tech company after all — at least when it comes to regulation.

After I asked him what role US lawmakers should play when it comes to regulating big tech companies over issues like privacy and antitrust, Hastings said his company is actually a media company, like Disney.

His argument: Netflix spends $1.2 billion a year on technology and around $10 billion on video programming. So “we’re really mostly a content company powered by tech.”

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