Entertainment of the future will look a lot like Netflix does now -- at least, according to a top Netflix executive.
"In 10 years...it will be entirely delivered on the Internet. It will be a series of apps that's closer to what you see on smart TV," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. "I don't think it will be delivered on cable, and I don't think it will be linear," meaning viewers will be able to watch content in any order.
Sarandos spoke at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Netflix calls itself the "world's leading Internet television network" and has been instrumental in redefining TV in the digital age. Forsaking traditional networks' linear programming flow that requires viewing at an appointed time, the streaming service aims to make movies and full seasons of episodes globally available on demand, at the same time. It's a popular model, with the service boasting more than 65 million subscribers. That consumer appeal combined with the approximately $2.9 billion that Netflix paid last year to license content are altering the business of television.
"Consumers are changing their behavior," Sarandos said. "That isn't a Netflix problem. Every industry has to deal with consumers changing their behavior."
Bryan Lourd, a top Hollywood agent with Creative Artists Agency who joined Sarandos on a panel, said the 10-year forecast didn't even factor in virtual reality, which can make audiences feel as if they're interacting with what they're watching.
Though Netflix is fundamentally a technology company, Sarandos said it's crucial for it to have a presence in Los Angeles.
"I've been at Netflix for 15 years, and I made a conscious decision not to move to Silicon Valley," he said. The company has about 400 people in LA and about 1,600 employees at its headquarters Los Gatos, California, he added.
Sarandos also said the Netflix approach to making movies can be a safer financial bet for producers. The company pays a flat fee to buy a film, unlike a typical studio, which makes a small upfront payment and then shares the eventual profit if a project is a success. "It's not 'Titanic' money, it isn't 'Avatar,' but there's a profit," he said, referring to two record-grossing films.