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John Malone, considered one of the most discerning media investors, told CNBC that he understands the importance of streaming video to the growing television ecosystem, even in its early days.
In an interview that aired on Thursday, billionaire Liberty Media recalled trying to get DirecTV to buy Netflix when he was chairman of the satellite TV service from 2008 to 2010.
“I tried to buy Netflix from [co-founder] Reed Hastings when the stock was worth eight bucks, but he didn’t sell it to me. “You know, damn it, it’s bad luck,” Malone told CNBC correspondent David Faber ahead of Liberty Media Investor Day on Thursday. The event took place in person in New York and virtually.
Netflix has come a long way since its $ 8 / share became the most dominant video streaming service on the planet. This is a Wall Street favorite. Netflix shares hit an all-time high of $ 700.99 on Wednesday, up 8,660% since then.
Malone acknowledged the advantage Netflix created for itself by becoming the first to introduce streaming broadly, echoing comments he made to CNBC back in 2017, citing a failed attempt to buy Netflix. “I tried very hard to buy Netflix for DirecTV,” he said at the time. “Reed was very clear that his ambition was to create a much larger global company. And he was right to do it. “
Fast-forward to 2021, Malone said, “The market is clearly giving huge market valuations for Netflix – and, frankly, Netflix versus Disney.” Netflix, which launched its streaming service in 2007, had about 214 million paying subscribers worldwide by the end of the last quarter. Disney +, which launched two years ago, had 118.1 million subscribers, including Hotstar, a service brand in India.
Malone told Faber, “You have to ask me, ‘John, why didn’t you invest more in Google, Facebook or Amazon? Why did you stay with these old businesses that you were in? “Do you understand? And I plead guilty. to the one, that.”
The veteran media mogul admired what Big Tech and their leaders have accomplished. He said, “[Amazon’s] Jeff Bezos is a genius at what he created. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook [with Apple] have shown skill, “including Netflix CEO Hastings.” These are brilliant businessmen who seized the opportunity, saw the power of a global scale and seized it, “Malone said.
Netflix was not immediately available to respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Malone’s remarks.