Netflix bosses on covering live sport, spending even more on content and potential for co-productions with the BBC

Founder Reed Hastings and programmes chief Ted Sarandos tell RadioTimes.com that the streaming service will continue to spend big on original series, but have no plans to move into live broadcasting

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Streaming giant Netflix will continue to spend on original shows, but its ambitions as a content provider will not include live content or sport for the foreseeable future.

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With speculation about where the company’s founder and CEO Reed Hastings and content chief Ted Sarandos will take Netflix next, the executives ruled out competing with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as well as major broadcasters for any live sports content.                                               

“With live sports, one of our core propositions is about on demand and viewing control,” Sarandos told RadioTimes.com in Paris. “So it adds a lot of value to scripted professional entertainment when you watch a movie or a TV show, [but] not much value to sports because you want to watch it live with everybody else.”

“Is sport something you would do,” we asked?

“No, no no,” replied Sarandos. 

This may come as a relief to fellow technology giants Facebook and Twitter who have made moves in recent months to acquire the rights to stream live TV content online. Recently, Twitter acquired the rights to stream NFL (National Football League) Thursday night football games.

Netflix founder Hastings told RadioTimes.com that Netflix will continue to grow and that its £5bn current content splurge on an array of shows such as Black Mirror, Ricky Gervais film Special Correspondents, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards will be maintained.

“I imagine it will continue to grow. From 2007 to days it’s gone like this [waves a hand upwards]. This year it’s about $5bn in spending and in 2007 it was around £50m. It’s grown one hundred fold.”

Asked it if will increase he said: “Yeah. Not more than one hundred fold. More than 5 billion, yeah.”

Sarandos added that he does not see Netflix as having a principal rival, despite the similarities between its business model and that of Amazon.

Said Hastings: “The creators [pitch] to multiple bidders. Amazon are just another bidder. They are doing some great work, and so are HBO and so are a lot of people. All we have got to do is have some content that is spectacular.

“We are not trying to get to be all of someone’s viewing. Even outside viewing people use PlayStation and kill time on Facebook or watch sports, a lot of things we don’t do. So we don’t focus on what Amazon does,” he added.

“It’s super diverse. I go through this with investors. I ask them, ‘Last night when you didn’t watch Netflix what did you do?’ and it’s always super diverse.”

Sarandos added: “We do compete with them and others for content but we just have to be better pickers. But we don’t try and get everything, we’re not trying to get everything.”

Sarandos said he could envisage doing more co-production deals with the BBC but cautioned: “Sometimes there are certain times when we want the same things. The more that they want to be global and the more we are global then those things are in conflict.”

“I wish we had done the deal with The Night Manager,”’ he added.

The pair confirmed that Netflix’s negotiations with BBC Worldwide over getting the rights to the revamped Top Gear are continuing, as RadioTimes.com has already reported.

Sarandos said he wanted Netflix to land the new show fronted by Chris Evans: “Theoretically it should follow the deal of the old format where Top Gear is still under the terms of the old deal. So in many parts of the world we already have it picked up and we’ll continue to talk to them about doing it as well.

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“The show is very popular on Netflix as you can imagine. There’s a change in format but people definitely prefer the British Top Gear over the local Top Gear in almost every country in the world.”