Netflix: Our Biggest Competitor Is Sleep
Ask anyone who Netflix needs to worry about in terms of competition and most people would respond with Amazon or HBO. But Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, disagrees. According the Hastings, there is no other service that can have any meaningful impact on his service. Instead, he's fighting a greater enemy: sleep.
Hastings made this assessment during Netflix's Q1 earnings call, according to Recode. He also holds a very interesting view of the streaming media and video on demand marketplace. Hastings says he believes the market is vast and that everybody offering programming is growing without impacting the competition. He summed it up when talking about Amazon as, "that's because we're like two drops of water in the ocean, of both time and spending for people."
As for the reference to sleep as a competitor, it was no joke. Again, when talking about a lack of impact from rival streaming services, he said, "You know, think about it, when you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night. You really -- we're competing with sleep, on the margin."
Sleep was also referred to as a competitor by Hastings back in October last year. And then we got this from the Netflix U.S. Twitter account yesterday:
Sleep is my greatest enemy.— Netflix US (@netflix) April 17, 2017
Sleep isn't just a competitor for Netflix, it's an enemy!
I can see Hastings' point from a consumer's point of view. We don't really care which service is being watched, we simply watch a service because it is offering the content we want to view. It's likely more than one streaming service is used by a consumer, or if one is subscribed to at a time then switching will happen based on content.
For Netflix, Amazon, etc. to be truly competing against each other for viewers there would need to be a severely limited amount of content for them to fight over. We aren't really seeing that right now. It could happen in the future, but for now I think Hastings is right. All these services are part of a vast ocean and everyone is growing independently.