Considered one of the brightest media investors of all time, John Malone told CNBC that he recognized the importance of video streaming to the evolving television ecosystem in the early days.
In an interview broadcast Thursday, the Liberty Media billionaire recalled attempts to have DirecTV buy Netflix when he was chairman of the satellite television service from 2008 to 2010.
“I tried to buy from Netflix [co-founder] Reed Hastings when the stock was eight dollars, but he wouldn’t sell it to me. You know, damn bad luck, “Malone told CNBC David Faber in the run-up to Liberty Media’s Investor Day on Thursday. The event took place in person in New York City and virtually.
Netflix has come a long way since $ 8 a share to become the dominant video streaming service in the world. It’s a popular stock on Wall Street. Netflix stock hit an all-time high of $ 700.99 on Wednesday, a whopping 8,660% since then.
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Acknowledging the advantage Netflix gained by being the first to get into streaming on a large scale, Malone reiterated his comments made to CNBC in 2017, citing the failed efforts to buy Netflix. “I went out of my way to buy Netflix on DirecTV,” he said. “It was pretty clear to Reed that his ambition was to build a much bigger global company. And he was right about that.”
Fast forward to 2021, Malone said, “The market is obviously giving Netflix huge market ratings – and frankly Netflix compared to Disney.” Netflix, which started its streaming service in 2007, had around 214 million worldwide as of the end of the last quarter paid streaming subscribers. Disney +, which launched two years ago, had 118.1 million subscribers, including Hotstar, the brand of the service in India.
Malone said to Faber, “You should ask me, ‘John, why haven’t you invested more in Google or Facebook or Amazon? to.”
The seasoned media tycoon was amazed at what Big Tech and its leaders have achieved. He said, “[Amazon’s] Jeff Bezos is a genius with what he created. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook [with Apple] were masterful, “including Netflix CEO Hastings.” These are brilliant business people who took an opportunity, recognized and harnessed the power of global greatness, “said Malone.
Netflix was not immediately available to respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Malone’s remarks.