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Summary:

Reed Hasting’s original deal with the premium cable network Starz is widely seen as a steal, securing Netflix the right to stream major studio content for reportedly just $30 million a year. But at the time Hastings made the deal, he almost pulled out last minute.

reed hastings charlie rose

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Charlie Rose this week that his company almost didn’t close its now-infamous deal with Starz three years ago. The premium cable channel ended up licensing its entire catalog of movies to Netflix in 2008, giving the streaming service access to movies from Sony and Disney, as well as some original TV shows.

Netflix reportedly paid just $30 million for these rights. The deal has been a point of contention in Hollywood ever since, with some executives saying Netflix should have paid a lot more. However, that’s not how Hastings saw it in 2008: “At the time, it was so expensive that we almost didn’t do the deal at the last minute,” he told Rose.

The company’s deal with Starz is up for renewal early next year, and Hastings acknowledged that his company will have to pay much more this time around. “That renewal, if it happens, will be a lot more expensive,” he said.

Hastings also shared a few observations about Amazon’s recent cloud outage in the interview, saying it was actually “a validation of the cloud” because Amazon’s architecture allowed Netflix to simply move its AWS-hosted assets to a different data center. And he had kind words for all of his competitors, including Google’s YouTube, which he credited for inspiring him to add streaming to Netflix:

“Really, YouTube showed the way. When we first used YouTube in 2005, it was shocking. You could click and watch, it was like television — except, you could decide. It was instant…. We realized: Streaming is finally here. The Internet is ready.”

Check out the entire interview here.

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