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Netflix Focusses its Growth on Broadcast Carriage, Not Sports
Let's get this out of the way: Netflix won't be carrying live sports. But, one Netflix exec said at IBC, "We never say never."

Netflix has denied (again) that it plans to acquire live sports. “There's nothing we can do differently or that would bring value to live sports that a broadcaster or those doing live don't already do,” Netflix vice president of business development for Europe, the Mideast, and Africa, Maria Ferreras, said at IBC.

Then, she added, “We never say never.”

With international subscriber numbers surpassing those inside the U.S. for the first time, Netflix's focus is on securing more carriage deals with pay TV broadcasters and telcos.

The SVOD giant has amassed 130 million subscribers worldwide with growth now rising higher outside—42 percent year-over-year—than inside the US. 2017 marked the first year for the 20-year-old company in which its international business was profitable.

“When we decided we weren’t going to have our own box the natural thing to do was to partner with STBs and smart TVs,” Ferreras said.

In the past 12, months Netflix has renewed and expanded partnership deals with BT, Orange, and Deutsche Telekom. It has also struck new deals with Sky, OSN, and Telefonica. The Sky deal, for instance, sees the pay TV firm bundle the full Netflix service into a new Sky TV subscription pack available through the Sky Q platform.

“It’s important to understand how we get to this point,” Ferreras explained. “One, is that we’re committed to producing good quality shows.”

Netflix landed 112 Emmy nominations in 2018, up from 91 last year.

“Another is quality of experience,” she continued. Most new Netflix productions are 4K on top of over 2,000 hours of existing 4K HDR content.

The third touchpoint for Ferreras was making the Netflix experience consistent across all devices.

“When we make a partnership we ensure that the Netflix experience is exactly the same,” she said.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the dominance of Netflix there is room for plenty of other SVOD players to make a decent business provided they have the right formula.

Kerensa Saminidis, general manager for Turner’s Filmstruck movie subscription service, boiled this down to access, audience, and community.

“Filmstruck is not looking to compete with Netflix or Amazon. We’re about being additive or complementary,” she said.

Britbox president Soumya Srirama likened Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu to broadcast networks with smaller SVOD players emerging like cable nets catering to special needs.

“They have become a utility; people won’t turn them off,” Saminidis said, referring to  Netflix and the other giants. “At the same time, people are overwhelmed by choice. They are fed up wasting time browsing for what to watch. Amazon and Netflix have to respond algorithmically but we feel there’s an opportunity to focus on a smaller volume of curated content.”

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