Netflix ties Comcast for subscribers, downplays cord cutting

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Netflix released its first quarter results today with a profit of $60 million on revenue of $719 million, up 88% and 46% on-year. The video streaming service added 3.6 million global subscribers (US and Canada) between January and March, pushing the company's total subscription count to 23.6 million. Some 22.8 million of those accounts are in the US, which is the same number that Comcast recently reported.

Considering the trend of media streaming, Netflix is poised to become the largest video service in the US. Again, that's in terms of raw subscriptions -- there's just no comparing revenue. Comcast reported a profit of more than $1 billion on revenue of over $9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, which boils down to roughly $132 a month per subscriber. Netflix pulled in just over $10 a month per subscriber.

Netflix partly attributes its recent growth to securing fresh content deals, noting that its agreement with CBS makes it the only online premium subscription service that offers shows from all four broadcast networks. The company detailed its latest arrangements with Fox and Lionsgate. It has obtained rights to Glee, Sons of Anarchy, Weeds, Blue Mountain State and exclusive syndication rights for Mad Men.


Interestingly, Netflix downplayed cord cutting by saying its service is "complementary" to traditional pay TV. "Recently, the CEO of [a cable company] characterized Netflix as 'rerun TV'. While we don't plan to use that line in our next marketing campaign, he is fundamentally correct," Netflix said. By offering previous seasons, the company said it contributes to the growth of the current season on pay TV.

Instead, Netflix believes its primary competition comes from Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. It also believes that Dish Network is working to develop a substantial subscription streaming service under its recently acquired Blockbuster brand. The company also mentioned future concerns about TV Everywhere, the Web-based initiative backed by TV providers like Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

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