Media mogul Barry Diller has a warning for the media industry — you're not going to catch Netflix.
“You’re not going to get 130 million subscribers, or, probably in a year or so, 200 million,” said Diller, who is known for his strident views on the media industry. “They ran right in front of everybody and they have such a lead that there is nobody that is going to compete with them at that level.”
Diller, the chairman of IAC and the former CEO of Paramount Pictures, issued the warning during an interview with CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin at the Economics Club of New York on Tuesday. IAC owns a variety of internet businesses including The Daily Beast and Match.com.
Diller said rivals could get to 20 million to 30 million subscribers but added that trying to reach Netflix's level was "a fool’s errand.” Netflix reported on Tuesday that it had hit 137 million subscribers.
Several media companies are aiming to challenge Netflix's dominance, including Amazon, Hulu and upcoming services from Disney and AT&T. Diller shared that he told Disney CEO Bob Iger not to say he’s competing with Netflix, but simply say he's in the streaming world.
Netflix has emerged as a titan in the media industry, expanding globally while other media companies work to launch their domestic services. The company now competes with the major movie studios and TV networks for talent, and has signed a variety of high-profile producers and celebrities, including Kenya Barris, the creator of ABC's "Black-ish," TV hitmaker Shonda Rhimes, movie star Adam Sandler and even Barack and Michelle Obama, among others.
Netflix's streaming competitors aren't the only ones in trouble, Diller added.
“The movie business, for all intents and purposes, is dead,” Diller said, adding that the business had mostly moved to Netflix and HBO. "Now, it is only about making sequels and big tentpole movies."
Diller also touched on the topic of business dealings in Saudi Arabia in light of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish authorities have alleged Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations.
In light of the allegations, numerous media executives and companies pulled out of an upcoming conference in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s not exactly a surprise,” Diller said, insisting he would never have attended such a conference. “You have a compact. In almost every situation, you have to somewhat blur your eyes to what they’re doing, but you get to make those choices.”
Diller said it was good to see people in the media industry taking a stand but noted that the business side of the situation remains an open question.
“Symbolically, it is a very important thing that they said: 'They may have slaughtered this man in the consulate. We’re not going to show up,'" Diller said. "But money is a great whitewash."