Netflix intimated today as part of the company's second-quarter earnings that it could partner with HBO in the future.
HBO, the top pay-TV service, appears to have been caught off guard by the comment but it doesn't appear the Time Warner-owned company wants anything to do with Netflix.
In a letter to investors from Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings wrote: "As for HBO, they continue to do great work with HBO GO, which is now available to most U.S. households that subscribe to the premium service. While we compete for content and viewing time with HBO, it is also possible we will find opportunities to work together -- just as we do with other networks."
Netflix was either signaling to HBO that it would be open to joining forces or was guilty of wishful thinking. Either way, an HBO spokesman responded to the comments with this terse statement. "We are not in discussions and have no plans to work with Netflix."
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Hastings have sparred in the press the past couple of years. Bewkes once churned up plenty of headlines when he compared Netflix to the Albanian army. In December 2010, when Netflix was riding a wave of success including huge increases in revenue, profitability and the number of subscribers, Bewkes suggested that Netflix was too small to reshape the film distribution business and was being overhyped.
"It's a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world?" Bewkes told The New York Times. "I don't think so."