Netflix CEO Reed Hastings “has been successful in throwing hail Mary passes and then growing into them. And I think he is going to continue doing that. He’s got a great service. He’s disintermediating the studio industry by going directly to the talent,” Malone said in an exclusive interview with CNBC’s David Faber Thursday at the Liberty Media annual investor meeting.
“The only outfit right now that has a chance of overtaking them would be Amazon.”
The investor noted the cable industry missed its opportunity to compete with Netflix in the past and said “it’s way too late” now. He added that in today’s media world Netflix has the lead position due to its size and subscriber base.
The internet “makes scale even more important in the media business, where scale always was important. It’s all about scale,” he said. Netflix was “the first wave. And I think Jeff [Bezos] is gonna be the most disruptive. As [his] Death Star moves into striking range of every industry on the planet.”
He explained that Amazon’s business dominance is growing stronger. Malone said any company that sells products to consumers is at risk of being crushed by the e-commerce giant.
“If you’re in the B2C business, if you’re selling anything to any consumer anywhere on the planet, you gotta believe that Amazon is gonna have a look at that opportunity to commoditize you to use scale to serve the public,” he said. Bezos is “reducing cost to the consumer and providing great convenience … You just got to take your hat off and envy what he has built.”
Malone is widely respected as one of the most astute deal makers in the media and cable industries. He built and ran his cable empire TCI from the 1970s and sold it to AT&T in 1999 for roughly $50 billion. The investor has a net worth of nearly $8 billion, according to Forbes.