Netflix CEO: Focus more on stories and less on screen size

Mobile World Congress: Netflix CEO and co founder Reed Hastings says the brand does not design for mobile, focusing on content rather than the screens its viewed on.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings says marketers should follow its lead and focus on incredible stories, characters that engage and story lines that are meaningful and funny as content becomes “less about the screen size”.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Spain last night, he said: “We don’t design for mobile – there are people who are talking about that [in terms of] vertical video and maybe we will look at that some day, but we focus on stories you want to watch on any screen, including mobile.”

Hastings admitted there are some viewers that are “classic” in what they want as some prefer to watch films at the cinema or shows on a TV rather than on a laptop or mobile. He added that today’s mobile screens are “just stunning” but “would bet that old people watch on big screens forever and young people figure out these new paradigms as they grow”.

However, the company is “investing heavily” in network servers to ease buffering on the site. Hastings explained: “Some of you are old enough to remember dial-up [internet] and now that seems like a relic – that’s what we want to make buffering.”

We focus on stories that people want to watch on any screen, including mobile.

Reed Hastings, Netflix

Hastings couldn’t give any indication as to what Netflix will look like in the future, instead name checking Charlie Brooker’s dystopian view of the future in Netflix series Black Mirror as an indicator that while the future “is hard to predict” there are some “strange and wonderful speculations”.

He said very few people would be able to predict what is happening today so the company tries to “learn and adapt” rather than “commit to one particular view of  what’s going to happen”.

A global, but local, strategy for content

In the early days, Netflix had mostly American content, but Hastings told the audience that half its 100 million viewers are now international and therefore it is “rapidly expanding and developing relationships” with TV producers around the world. This makes the platform “more attractive” if filmmakers can get global reach.

Netflix, which is in 130 countries, just won the Oscar for White Helmets – a short documentary about rescuer workers in Syria. But Hastings said having global reach for content is “challenging” but that its committed to “collecting and developing stories around the world and sharing them.”

This summer Netflix is launching a soap opera in Spain, is filming a sci-fi series in Germany and has already seen success with drama The Crown in the UK. Hastings added: “Those stories do well in many markets – giving local producers a global audience.”