Netflix boss imagines replacing movies and TV shows with entertainment drugs

Netflix has become a household name by offering streaming movies and TV shows, but CEO Reed Hastings is already looking to the future, to a time when people stop binge-watching entire seasons and take futuristic entertainment pills instead. Speaking at the Wall Street Journal's WSJD event, Hastings said that in the long term, movies and shows "will be like the opera and the novel," indicating that there "would be substitutes" that make their way into the mainstream.

When asked what those substitutes would be, Hastings said Netflix's long-term challenge was to figure that out, the company hopefully hitting on something that future customers wanted to consume. The streaming service has already diversified somewhat from its original form, spending heavily on stand-up comedy, documentaries, and indie films to add to its list of licensed TV series and movies, but Hastings had some even more outlandish concepts in mind for where the entertainment industry would go next.

Netflix CEO @reedhastings: Long term "movies & TV shows will be like the opera & the novel. ... There will be substitutes." #WSJDLive

— WSJD (@WSJD) October 25, 2016

One such substitute could be "pharmacological," he suggested, bringing to mind an entertainment drug that viewers could take to experience an evening of entertainment without needing to impact their monthly download caps. The capacity for this kind of evening has existed since early humans started chewing weird mushrooms they found in the forest, but presumably Netflix's imaginary fun drug would be a little safer, and come with fewer side effects.

One potential substitute for movies? Netflix's @reedhastings muses on the "pharmacological," like a pill that entertains you. #WSJDLive

— WSJD (@WSJD) October 25, 2016

Hastings didn't indicate his engineers were hard at work in the chemistry lab yet, anyway, presumably using the idea primarily to illustrate that the company couldn't afford to get bogged down in outdated models as previous competitors like Blockbuster had — to their obvious detriment. It's interesting to imagine how scientists could condense hours of entertainment into a safe, marketable drug, however, if only because it would allow the company to replace the concept of Netflix and chill with Netflix and pill.


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