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Friday, May 25,2012

Netflix: a 'frenemy' to the cable TV establishment

Ted Sarandos, Netflix's Chief Content Officer, probably felt like a bit of an outsider sitting on a panel with executives from Cox, Time Warner Cable, and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation at the 2012 Cable Show. After all, it's not a stretch to say his service is one of the biggest ways that people today consume TV and movies — and often cited as a potential threat to the decades-old cable industry that's struggling to innovate.

Unsurprisingly, moderator Piers Morgan (who had just wrapped up his one-on-one with Conan O'Brien) dug right into this disconnect, asking Sarandos whether his service was eating the lunch of the cable companies and networks, or whether Netflix provided a safe harbor for their content. Sarandos acknowledged that his company could be "a little bit of both, depending on the content," and further equivocates, "I don't think there's a black-and-white answer in what role we play." Somewhat reluctantly, Sarandos did admit that "we have billions of hours of viewing, so that's going to take away from something," but noted that he doesn't know what that "something" is — "it could be taking away from other things that people are doing."


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