How Netflix Evolved from Competing with HBO to Partnering with WWE

Netflix is no longer just producing niche content; it’s committed to offering something for everyone. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos reflected on his past comparison of Netflix to HBO, regretting the narrow view. He noted that while HBO has a limited selection of high-quality content, Netflix aims to encompass the variety of networks like CBS and BBC, catering to a global audience.

In a 2013 GQ profile of Reed Hastings, Sarandos stated, “What I should have said back then is, We want to be HBO and CBS and BBC and all those different networks around the world that entertain people, and not narrow it to just HBO.” He emphasized that “prestige elite programming” represents a small niche, which is not Netflix’s primary focus anymore. Instead, Netflix’s strategy revolves around offering a diverse range of content that appeals to various tastes. Sarandos highlighted that different audiences have different preferences, with shows like “Ginny & Georgia” being beloved by their respective fans.

This approach has led Netflix to adopt a programming strategy resembling traditional cable TV, featuring a wide array of shows from “Young Sheldon” to “The 100” and soon, WWE’s “Monday Night Raw.” Despite facing competition from Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Comcast, Netflix has proven its capability in programming. Sarandos remarked, “Early on, we were discounted because I think the studios thought these tech guys are never going to figure out programming. We largely have proved them wrong.”

Over the past few years, Netflix has evolved significantly, embracing advertising and paid password sharing—practices it once avoided. As the streaming industry shifts its focus from subscriber numbers to revenue, other streamers might follow Netflix’s lead. However, this transformation has also made streaming services resemble traditional cable, with rising prices, more ads, and bundling. Major streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Max, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus, and Peacock have all increased their prices recently, prompting concerns about whether the streaming landscape will continue to become more like the cable TV model it once sought to disrupt.

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