Netflix Reveals New Mindset, New Competition and New Friends

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Enrique Marcarian / Reuters

You know who loves Netflix? Judging by comments made at the 39th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference this week, the answer might be “everybody.” Not only did Time Warner CEO and Chairman Jeff Bewkes announce that “Netflix is [Time Warner's] friend,” adding that companies like Netflix “can actually add value to all of us.” And noted Netflix skeptic, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves also said that “We want a healthy Netflix,” before going on to explain that he now sees the company as “much more of a friend than a foe.”

What’s happening? It’s possible that this is just the television industry watching Netflix’s recent struggles and backing off from its traditionally wary/predatory stance in sympathy. Or it could be the industry realizing the potential value of the company’s services as the digital distribution world continues to take shape. Certainly, given the performance of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the same event, you could believe either of those readings, depending on whether or not you felt predisposed towards the company or not.

(MORE: Netflix Sells Shares to Raise $400M, Admits 2012 Will Be Financial Bust)

Hastings definitely tried to talk a good game, explaining that the company is “not losing too much sleep” over recent events, and considers itself back on track. Hastings also admitted that the company offers a fantastic opportunity for its partners, “as long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore.” He unveiled a potentially new attitude at Netflix, calling the company “the Moneyball of content providers,” a moniker he explained came about as the result of the company’s use of views and other statistics and metrics to consider the optimal price it’s willing to pay for individual pieces of content.

Interestingly enough, Hastings also explained that, of all the companies that are trying to provide Netflix alternatives, there’s only one company that he feels they’re really in competition with: HBO. “They’re becoming more Netflix-like, and we’re becoming more HBO-like,” he explained, adding, “I think the two of us will compete for a very long time; hopefully we’ll make ourselves both better through that competition… In a good scenario, we’ll push each other, like the way two runners push each other.”

These comments, of course, follow HBO Co-President Eric Kessler declaring last week that there was “no chance” that Netflix would ever get any HBO content as part of its streaming service. Is Hastings trying to win over Kessler with kindness, or simply accepting him at his word and trying to move on? You be the judge—but if the reactions of Moonves and Bewkes are anything to go by, there’s every possibility that the charm offensive is aimed more at other content providers… and that it’s already working.

MORE: HBO Boss to netflix: You’ll Never Get Our Shows

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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