Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The One Number Netflix Investors Care About Today

Netflix had a crummy 2011. How did the first three months of 2012 go?

We’ll find out this afternoon, when the company releases its Q1 numbers. And the easiest way to tell will be by looking at one key metric: The number of U.S. streaming-video customers.

Netflix has told investors to expect something between 22.8 million and 23.6 million subscribers. And if the stock veers wildly immediately after the earnings hit the wire today, it’s likely because of that number.

If it’s high, then Netflix bulls get some vindication: Turns out that people still like paying $8 a month for all-you-can-eat movies and TV shows, streamed to any device they want, just like CEO Reed Hastings has been saying.

If it’s low, then Hastings’ doubters can argue that the loss of high-profile movies from Sony and Disney, and increased competition from the likes of Amazon and Hulu, are big problems that aren’t going away.

There will be plenty of other numbers to dig into as well, and Citi’s Mark Mahaney lays out his helpful intrepretive cheat sheet for them, below (click to enlarge). We’ll tear into those, along with Hastings’ quarterly shareholder letter, after 4 pm ET. See you then.


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