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Netflix’s Reed Hastings Wants to See HBO Max on Nielsen’s Streaming Leaderboard

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UPDATED, CORRECTION APPENDED: Reed Hastings, Netflix’s co-founder, chairman and co-CEO, gave a shoutout to one of his rivals Thursday, telling WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar that HBO Max should be represented in the new streaming-data report released by Nielsen.

“Wild that most TV time in USA is still legacy linear. Stream team needs to up its game,” Hastings wrote in the tweet, adding, “@jasonkilar we need you on the board too.”

Hastings did not mean that Kilar should join the streaming giant’s board of directors, a Netflix rep confirmed.

Hastings’ tweet cited new Nielsen data for May 2021 showing that the majority of time spent viewing TV in the U.S. is on linear networks, not streaming platforms. HBO Max is not broken out among the streaming services on Nielsen’s chart; currently, HBO Max is not measured as a discrete service in the firm’s streaming estimates, which are based on connected-TV usage.

Kilar responded to Hastings that WarnerMedia “is already on the board strongly in that largest green pie piece Reed (TNT, TBS, CNN, HBO, [CNN]…). Proud to serve customers in whatever way they choose… Fun to also be the crazy fast(est) growing upstart in @hbomax (2 Qs straight of 2.5M+ US sub adds).”

The Nielsen data shows that 64% of time spent viewing TV is on broadcast or cable channels (39% cable, 25% broadcast), with 26% on streaming.

Netflix had 6% share of total TV time, tied with YouTube. In the May numbers as estimated by Nielsen, Hulu had 3% share; Amazon Prime Video had 2%; and Disney Plus was at 1%.

Kilar, who joined WarnerMedia in May 2020, is widely believed to be looking to leave the company following AT&T’s spinoff of the media conglomerate — to merge with Discovery. Under the deal, current Discovery chief David Zaslav will helm the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery. Kilar last month told WarnerMedia employees he expects to stay on into 2022, signaling he plans to exit when the merger closes (expected in mid-2022).

Kilar built Hulu into a streaming player from its inception in 2007 as a joint venture of Fox and NBCUniversal. He exited in 2013 amid reports of conflicts with Hulu’s owners, which by then included Disney, about the future direction of the company. Kilar served as co-founder and CEO of the startup streamer Vessel from 2013 to 2017. He’s also served on the boards of Univision and DreamWorks Animation in recent years. Before Hulu, Kilar was a senior executive at Amazon from 1997 to 2006.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Hastings wanted Kilar to join Netflix’s board of directors. A Netflix spokesperson clarified that Hastings meant that HBO Max, from Kilar’s WarnerMedia, should be “on the board” of the Nielsen streaming figures.