Mike Fries, the chief executive of Virgin Media's parent firm Liberty Global, has gone for the jugular in a public putdown of streaming service Netflix, by alleging that it has lost its "cool factor" and he no longer considered it a direct competitor.
Speaking at a board meeting in London, Fries dismissed his rival out of hand, believing that it had now peaked and would struggle to secure future growth.
He said: “Netflix is now more of a programme provider, like an HBO or a Sky Movies, as opposed to Sky. The cool factor is gone, and we are now matching it, meaning they have to invest in content to attract subscribers.
“The problem for Netflix is while it is a home of TV shows and films it doesn’t have Sky or BBC which makes part of the meal. We want to be the big plate, if you want to look at it in those terms. People want Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey.”
In a bid to usurp Netflix Liberty Global has launched its own video on demand My Prime service in Europe while Netflix invests increasing sums in original content to lure additional members to its 80 million subscriber base.