updated 04:55 pm EST, Mon January 26, 2009
Netflix Q4 2008 Results
Netflix this afternoon bucked expectations by revealing a major leap in the number of subscribers to its movie rental service this past fall. The company says its subscriber base surged 26 percent versus a year ago to 9.39 million and that its net income has climbed even faster, jumping nearly 44.6 percent to $22.7 million. Both improvements are "near record" statistics, according to Netflix chief Reed Hastings.
The spike comes despite a weakening US economy and is notable for being helped both by the traditional Netflix business of DVD rentals as well as "growing momentum" with Internet movie streaming. The online component is free with most subscriptions and is now available on several relatively ubiquitous devices, including the Xbox 360, TiVo's newer DVRs and Blu-ray players from both LG and Samsung.
Such an increase potentially gives Netflix a clearer advantage in online movies over rivals such as Apple and VUDU, both of whom have struggled for wider acceptance based on per-movie rentals and purchases.