Once upon a time, Netflix, the great disruptor, was considered the archenemy of established film and TV businesses everywhere. Those days are long gone and to prove it, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings opened MWC late on Day One with a quick Q&A keynote session. Netflix has come in from the cold; not that Hastings needed to prove it, but what better way to start the keynote than by mentioning Netflix documentary White Helmets, which won an award at the Oscars overnight.
However, today, most TV operators see Netflix as just another broadcast partner. In a question about Netflix's relationship with operators, Hastings said that, today, Netflix is in more than half of all US households and yet TV penetration remains stable. "Netflix is one source of great content, like HBO." This is why Comcast has integrated Netflix into its set-top boxes (STBs) with some success and so has Liberty Global in Europe. In a moment of modesty, Hastings acknowledged that while entertainment and content is continuing to rapidly move online, everything will be distributed online in five to 10 years. Come that day, Netflix will be just a small fraction of online entertainment.
As predicted by Ovum, Hastings called for collaboration with the mobile industry. He encouraged operators to offer tariffs that allow consumers to watch unlimited amounts of video without additional data charges, adding that Netflix was open to operators optimizing traffic generated by its video streams to conserve bandwidth and reduce congestion and costs. Hastings also stressed that Netflix was doing its bit, deploying video transcoding technology that reduces the bandwidth required to deliver a high-quality stream to a 4–5" screen to 0.5Mbps and working toward reducing that load to as little as 200Kbps.
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