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Media Companies: Beware of Netflix’s Global Ambitions

Anyone in the entertainment business tracking Netflix’s recent spate of global programming deals might want to consider comments made by cable pioneer John Malone last year. Talking about the need for cable operators to work together to build a national online video outlet, he noted that Netflix’s national presence across the U.S. meant it could bid on programming that cable firms individually couldn’t. That raises a question: Who’s threatened now Netflix has global buying power?

In an industry where film and television studios have long licensed programming to outlets country by country, the online firm is taking a new approach. Increasingly Netflix’s deals—such as those announced last week for a slate of four new Adam Sandler films as well as the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”—are global.

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While Netflix’s big-spending ways might be attractive in the near term, longer term sellers do better in a fragmented market with a choice of buyers.