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Netflix CEO sees plenty of room to coexist with HBO online

Reed Hastings says that "it's definitely not a zero-sum game" when it comes to online streaming-video services.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings during a YouTube broadcast discussion of prior earnings. Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Yes, Netflix and HBO can get along just fine.

That's according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who said on Tuesday in a video conference call that he believes customers could potentially subscribe to both Netflix and HBO's future streaming service.

Netflix could be facing a powerful new competitor in HBO, which plans to offer a standalone streaming service carrying its library of movies and its critically acclaimed shows, from classic series such as "The Wire" to blockbuster hit "Game of Thrones." HBO hasn't provided more details beyond its intent.

If HBO decides to price the service at the same level of Netflix, it could be "extremely disruptive" to HBO, Hastings said. But he doesn't believe it will cannibalize Netflix's business.

"If they were to match us in pricing, it's just going to be a lot of people subscribing to both," Hastings said. "It's definitely not a zero-sum situation."

Netflix's plans start at $8 a month.

Hastings compared the competitive dynamic to one between HBO and Showtime. When Showtime has a hit show, more people subscribe to its network, but people don't drop HBO, he said.

Netflix earlier reported fourth-quarter customer growth and profits that exceeded its expectations.