"When you combine content and tech, you get to be first and impressive"

Reed Hastings on how he’s making Netflix future ready - Part 3

Published 7 years ago on Mar 14, 2017 4 minutes Read
Dawid Bilski

On the tech part, how are you getting better?
We are pushing the boundaries of what TCP (transmission control protocol) can do, experimenting with all these new protocols and other ones that allow TCP interactions to be faster, carry out data analysis and to predict what films you would really love and how to choose those.We are doing analytics around you know if at the 18th minute, say a whole bunch of people drop out of a given title, then there’s something wrong with the sound and maybe the sound and video lost sync. We’re doing a lot of things with data and technology to make it a great experience.

When you were beginning, did you ever envisage that Netflix would become the phenomenon that it has?
We did not know what the future would bring or how quickly it would happen. But we knew we wanted to get to internet streaming, and the DVD was temporary. So the outlines were there and you know it’s bigger than we thought, but now we say it’s small, we were just at the beginning. We want to be as popular in India, Russia and Indonesia as we are in the US and we have a long way to go, there’s a lot of work.

You have mentioned over the next two decades, the entire TV will be on the internet. So, in that future where do you see Netflix?
The number of ways that you will have entertainment over the next 10 or 20 years will be incredible and we have to compete with video gaming, and all interactive fields, all those chat services. You know we have to compete with everything because everything will be a lot more competitive as tech is getting better. But we are getting better as we stay focused on how to make our service better and to ensure more and more people will join our network.

In the coming years, will content or tech be bigger?
The key is to do them together, think about Apple, what Apple figured out was how to do cool tech and design it as good as jewellery, sell it as jewellery, be it an iPod or headphones; they figured how to do tech in style, no one had done that before, and when you combine two things that someone has not done before, you get to be first and be impressive. What we are doing is combining tech and content, so they’re both super important, I mean if you had great fashion at Apple but lousy tech that would have ripped you up, so we see that as two fundamental things.

What have been your learnings as an entrepreneur?
Just trying to survive, it’s hard work. You have to work hard and gain more customers. So you can say, staying focused and all of that stuff. Everyone knows that, everyone knows what it takes to win a soccer game or a cricket match, it’s hard work. The fact is that you need to get into the market and make customers feel important, figure out what they need and what are their unmet needs. Year on year we have done that better and better, but then again we are still so small compared to what we want to be and we have some big challenges ahead.

You have been passionately involved around the cause of education...
Sure, education is the route of all humanity and I think because I was a high school math teacher, it stayed as a big interest of mine. I work with some schools in the US that have an interest in just spreading education. The internet will be a big enabler wherever we can bring in fibre optic, for example  – I was in Costa Rica five years ago on vacation.We were in the north west, very rural and there was very high-speed internet on the beach, I was quite amazed, it was 2 or 3 megabites and I was like, “How is this possible?”. Then I started asking Costa Ricans and they said the government was laying fibre optics along the dirt road, the government is now prioritising laying fibre optic in every community. So, Costa Rica is setting a great example, and now India is doing that and getting fibre everywhere. The world is on the edge of this big change, bandwidth is everywhere, very fast and very expensive. I know it’s not yet there and it’s frustrating but we will get there.

This is the third of a three-part series, you can read part one here and part two here.