Time Warner's very public bashing of Netflix in recent weeks is a result of the media conglomerate's frustration over having to bid against the Web's top video-rental service for Warner Bros. content, says a Netflix executive.
If it weren't for Netflix bidding up the price, Time Warner, parent company of pay TV service HBO, would have an easier time acquiring Warner Bros. content after the licensing deal between the studio and HBO expires in 2014. That is what Ted Sarandos, Netflix's content-acquisition chief, said today at a conference in Miami, according to PaidContent. Presumably, this is an issue now because interested parties will start negotiating for Warner Bros' content long before the deal with Time Warner runs out.
Sarandos was asked during the National Association of Television Programming Executives about some of the hostile statements made in recent weeks by Time Warner managers and this is what he had to say, according to PaidContent and the Hollywood Reporter:
"We will be an aggressive bidder for [Warner Bros.] programming," Sarandos told the audience. "That will be good for Warner Bros., not so good for HBO...That's why I think there's some aggravation."
Over the past two months, Time Warner executives, including CEO Jeff Bewkes, have dismissed Netflix as a lightweight. In interviews, Bewkes rejected the possibility that Netflix's Internet-streaming service was a legitimate challenger to cable or could alter Hollywood's distribution model. He made this comparison: "Is the Albanian army going to take over the world?" Bewkes told The New York Times. "I don't think so."
In the past, Bewkes and his lieutenants criticized Netflix for paying too little for content and have suggested that studio chiefs who do deals with Netflix are suckers.