Netflix CEO says Disney content not necessary for international growth

Netflix's Stranger Things seen on Chomecast Ultra. Image: Netflix

Disney’s decision to pull its content from Netflix starting in 2019 caused a bit of a panic among Netflix investors, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company doesn’t need Disney's content to keep fueling its international growth.

During today’s earnings interview, Hastings said that Disney is a “great brand with great content” but that Netflix only offers that content outside of the U.S. in the Netherlands, Australia and Canada.

“You can see that we’ve done very well in international without it,” Hastings said.

In the most recent quarter, Netflix added 4.45 million international subscribers and raised its international subscriber total to 56.48 million. Netflix has added more than 17 million international subscribers in the past year.

Netflix offers its service in most international markets with the exception of China, North Korea and Syria.

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As it has said in the past, Netflix pointed toward original, not licensed, content as the big driver for its future growth.

“Our future largely lies in exclusive original content that drives both excitement around Netflix and enormous viewing satisfaction for our global membership and its wide variety of tastes. Our investment in Netflix originals is over a quarter of our total P&L content budget in 2017 and will continue to grow. With $17 billion in content commitments over the next several years and a growing library of owned content ($2.5 billion net book value at the end of the quarter), we remain quite comfortable with our ability to please our members around the world. We’ll spend $7-8 billion on content (on a P&L basis) in 2018,” the company said.

When Disney announced its intentions to withdraw its Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films from Netflix's library, Netflix’s stock took a hit. But after today’s better-than-expected subscriber additions, Netflix’s stock rose more than 1% in after-hours trading.

In August, Disney announced its plans to launch its own branded streaming service. The service will serve as the exclusive U.S. SVOD home for live-action and animated movies from Disney beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate.