Netflix CEO: Unlimited streaming video is unrealistic, for now

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings warned today that the Netflix streaming library is unlikely to expand anytime soon.

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    Netflix users hoping to see an expanded streaming video library shouldn't hold their breath, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings warned today. Here, the Netflix homepage.
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Last November, Netflix rolled out a streaming video-only option for American users, which sounded like a good idea to us, for a couple of reasons. On the one hand, postage rates are going up, and the DVD thing is going to get pretty pricey for Netflix, pretty fast. On the other, it's clear – see here and here and here – that streaming video is where the rental market is headed, so why shouldn't Netflix get out ahead of the game?

The only problem: The Netflix streaming library is far from comprehensive. Any Netflix veteran can tell you that it's pretty much impossible to search for a specific title you'd like to watch, because you'll inevitably be disappointed; the service is really meant for browsing. Netflix has inked a few more major deals, which has helped expand the selection, but if you're hoping that the library will get much bigger soon, well, keep waiting.

Speaking today at the All Things D conference out in California, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said his company "can't provide unlimited content" for $7.99 a month. "We compete for a very specific and small part of the pie," he added, according to the tech site Mashable. "We don’t have everything, but we have a great bargain. That’s what we want the brand proposition to be… Apple and Amazon are very good at being comprehensive."

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In other words, if you want fuller service, for a fuller price, look elsewhere. $7.99 – the monthly rate for streaming-video subscriptions – only gets you so far. Netflix, of course, recently bought a 26 hour-long series called "House of Cards," which will star Kevin Spacey, and will be distributed exclusively through Netflix. Plenty of observers saw the agreement as a sign that Netflix was interested in edging into territory traditionally dominated by HBO.

Fast Company's Austin Carr reports that at the All Things D conference, Hastings told audience members that he would have preferred to spend the "House of Cards" money – some sources have placed the number at $100 million – on HBO and Showtime series. Thus far, HBO and Showtime have apparently refused to play ball.

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