Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix Talks a Little Trash About the Competition

reed hastings netflixNetflix turned in a Q4 that beat Wall Street’s expectations, and it’s basking in the results as investors bid up its shares by more than 25 percent. That’s a much better story for Reed Hastings and company than some of its recent quarters, where things went pretty much the other direction.

As always, Hastings’s quarterly shareholder letter has all sorts of interesting tidbits about the company, including the fact that it’s considering raising debt to finance more original productions like “House of Cards,” which debuts February 1.

Hastings also brings up an idea the company has been discussing quietly with would-be content partners: The new stuff that Netflix pays for doesn’t have to come in conventional TV time increments, which means a sitcom could be 40 minutes long or 12 minutes long, instead of the standard 22, etc.

But based on the visual evidence, what Hastings really wants us to pay attention to is what he considers a big advantage over his competition: A much bigger video catalog.

In the past, Hastings has made respectful comments about the likes of Amazon and Hulu Plus, which offer their own video subscription services. And he does that again this time around.

But then he also points out the results of the survey his company conducted, where it looked to see how many of its most popular movies and TV shows were available at Amazon, Hulu and the recently launched Redbox/Verizon service.

You can’t miss the results, because he’s displayed them in a giant graphic:

netflix competition

That one doesn’t require much translation, but just to be clear, here goes: You know how people like to complain about the selection on Netflix? Well, take a look at the other guys. Perhaps that’s why we have more than 30 million paying subscribers, and the other guys don’t seem to be anywhere in sight.

Hastings’s earnings calls are often entertaining/informative as well. So I’ll listen in there and report back if there’s anything worth noting.

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