SAN FRANCISCO--The iPad and other tablets might be the future for a lot of media, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a panel discussion at the Web 2.0 Summit this afternoon that the tablet craze affects his company's strategy "very little."
"People prefer large screens," Hastings said. "So the impact of Xbox, PS3, the Wii phenomenon--huge impact. The impact of the iPad--it's a great system, but the Mac laptops outstrip the iPad for Netflix viewing by a huge factor." Long-form video viewing does not translate that well to mobile platforms, he asserted.
Former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin, who joined Hastings on the panel, said he agrees, with regard to the U.S. market, but that the story will be very different in developing markets, where big-screen TVs are less commonplace and cheap tablet devices will soon be readily available.
Hastings seemed to concur with that notion, but with Netflix currently available only in the United States and Canada, that's not of immediate concern. He did, however, add that "over the next three to five years, we will try to get everywhere" via a strategically planned rollout based primarily on bandwidth constraints.
"This Christmas, maybe a third of TVs sold (in the U.S.) will have Wi-Fi built in. Next Christmas, two thirds. The following Christmas, complete," he said.
As Netflix has been shifting from a DVDs-by-mail service to a streaming-video service (Hastings said streaming makes up "the vast majority of the hours" spent using Netflix), subscriber numbers have jumped. In its last quarterly earning announcements, the company said it had added 2 million subscribers in the prior three months.