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Netflix chief says 'The Crown' will look a bargain after streaming explosion

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By Reuters
Netflix chief says 'The Crown' will look a bargain after streaming explosion
FILE PHOTO: Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, gestures during an event of the Fundacion Telmex Mexico Siglo XXI (Telmex Foundation Mexico XXI Century) in Mexico City, Mexico, September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido   -   Copyright  EDGARD GARRIDO(Reuters)

By Paul Sandle

CAMBRIDGE, England (Reuters) – The boss of Netflix <NFLX.O> says the looming arrival of Apple <AAPL.O>, Disney <DIS.N> and NBC to the global streaming market will push content costs to levels that make its epic drama about the British Royal family “look like a bargain”.

Costing a reported 100 million pounds to make, “The Crown” won critical acclaim and has helped Netflix to build its subscriber base, which has risen to 152 million and given it a headstart over rival pay-TV and technology groups.

“It’s a whole new world starting in November,” the U.S. streaming giant’s CEO Reed Hastings said at the RTS television industry conference in Britain.

Hastings cited the planned launch of services by Apple and Disney, as well as a ramping up of Amazon’s <AMZN.O> offering and the forthcoming Peacock platform from NBCUniversal <CMCSA.O>.

The new video-on-demand (SVOD) subscription services are good news for producers, with rival platforms competing to poach the best content and talent, Hastings said.

“Someday ‘The Crown’ will look like a bargain,” he said.

The show is intended to span 60 episodes over six seasons.

Claire Foy starred in the first two seasons, which traced the life of Queen Elizabeth from her coronation at the age of 25 to the birth of her first children and the love affairs of her sister, all while taking in the political dramas of the day.

Oscar winner Olivia Colman will star in the role when the third series launches in November.

Following on the success of “The Crown”, Hastings said Netflix would make a “big increase” in its investment in British television production next year, taking advantage of the country’s strong storytelling expertise.

“The possibilities the internet brings for growing entertainment is phenomenal, and over the next several years, with all of the expansion, I think we are going to see a very large increase in how much content is produced here in the UK,” he said at the conference in Cambridge, England.

“This year we spent a little over 400 million pounds in the UK and that’s continuing to grow, following our subscriber base.”

Asked if Netflix would spend twice as much next year, he said: “Probably not double, but a big increase.”

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton and David Goodman)