Netflix Sees the Need for Speed in Becoming Next HBO

By Mark Milian, Bloomberg

What took HBO decades to build, Netflix thinks it can achieve in a much shorter time.

As the online streaming service tries to become the next HBO by focusing more heavily on original content, such as the critically acclaimed "House of Cards," Netflix sees speed as its advantage.

"Everything moves faster online," Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said in an interview on "Bloomberg West." He said Netflix has built a sizable subscriber base rapidly and expects that pace to continue.

One rival, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen, said Netflix's strategy is working. He said yesterday that Blockbuster was too late to challenge Netflix in streaming video, and he feels "stupid" for not chasing original programming.

Last week, Jeffrey Bewkes, the chief executive officer of HBO parent Time Warner, praised Netflix for its success with "House of Cards." He described the series, starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher, as "pretty good" during his company's earnings call.

"The cycle of making breakthrough original programming, and having people find it and use it -- which HBO's been doing for 20 years, and Netflix is now joining -- it takes a while to get that up to scale," Bewkes said. "I forget. What does HBO got -- 10 or so hits here?"

"House of Cards" has been Netflix's first big splash. The show about American politics is poised to become the sort of reputation-builder that "The Sopranos" was for HBO. In 1999, the mob drama was nominated for several Emmy Awards in its first season. Netflix recently learned that "House of Cards" would be eligible for all categories of the Emmy Awards, Sarandos said.

"We entered into it under the assumption that it wouldn't be eligible," he said. "David (Fincher) loved the idea of trying something new and shaking the system up. Originally, when we talked about it, I said, 'You know, one of the downsides of this show on Netflix would be if it's the best work you ever do, we're going to have a really star-studded Webby Awards.'"

Watch the video interview here for more on Netflix's content strategy.