Can anything stop Netflix? Only acquisition, and that would probably be by Amazon.

The financial services firm Cowen and Company conducted a survey on the viewing numbers of House of Cards indicating that one in ten Netflix subscribers had watched at least one episode of the Netflix ‘own brand’ political drama. On average, the survey indicates that users watched six episodes. A success? Undoubtedly. A surprise? Surely not. Whilst one-in-ten is a good result, the global press and media coverage for House of Cards was, let’s call it extensive! You couldn’t miss it, and Kevin Spacey’s thoughtful comments on this as the future of television, ‘give the consumer what they want, when they want it, at a reasonable price, and they won’t steal it’ indicates that television producers in association with companies like Netflix are behaving differently to how the the record companies acted (or in-acted) when iTunes was being heralded by consumers 10 years ago.

Netflix has around thirty-three million streaming customers. They hot the million user mark in 2009, 10 years after the launch of their DVD by mail service. From 2009-2013 they’ve added over 20 million subscribers. Broadband, 3G and 4G and the proliferation of mobile devices have helped – and this latest House of Cards milestone will help to increase short and medium term subscriber growth. It wasn’t Netflix’s first foray into own-content creation. In 2012 they debuted Lilyhammer. Netflix have also edged out Showtime and will screen 14 episodes (also available on the same day) of Arrested Development in May, and there are upcoming projects with more producers, including Dreamworks.

“Families love Netflix, so creating an original series for kids was a natural for us. And we’re doing it in a big way by adapting Turbo, this year’s DreamWorks Animation summer tentpole movie. DreamWorks Animation has a long track record of creating incredibly successful characters and stories that delight people of all ages. We’re thrilled to add Turbo the series as well as all new DreamWorks Animation films, starting with their 2013 slate, to Netflix.”

I’m a Netflix subscriber and I love it. It’s one of the few debits from my bank account every month that I don’t feel bitter about. And even though I signed up using my tablet, I dont watch Netflix on mobile devices. I watch it on my television via AppleTV, and it’s  available on other similar set-top boxes and via smart TVs. Living-room presence is still important with particular demographics. And other providers are on their way surely. Apple themselves via the iTunes store, Hulu and Amazon Prime, and we must believe that own-brand content will find it’s way in to living room from YouTube over the next 12 months. It’s getting to be a busy sector – with more providers to come. Netflix, right now, seem to have the edge. Being platform agnostic helps and original content has created a brand-buzz. The estimates are they are spending over $2 billion a year on getting new content – and that’s working.  

Competition may slow the subscriber growth of Netflix, but they have now reached a critical mass of content and appeal that makes it attractive to not only consumers but investors. They reported financial results that came, very positively, as a surprise and the sage-like Carl Icahn’s very public investment show that you can run a great service and make money and create value for shareholders.  Netflix is now also attractive as a takeover target – Amazon must surely be reflecting on the performance of Amazon prime and thinking that Netflix could add a profitable, growth brand to their stable. 

As a consumer though, I like Netflix where they are right now; original content, a growing catalog of box-sets that acknowledge the niche interests of a key demographic, a huge investment in new contant, and of course they are teh people who gave me Sekirei. How can I not love Netflix just the way it is?

External links & Reference

  1. Carl Icahn & Netflix on WSJ live
  2. Netflix & Original movies? 


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