Watch out, another digital content provider’s looking to get a bunch of favorable stats picked up and tossed around in the press blender: Mission accomplished! Let’s have a look at the latest press release from Netflix, which includes oodles of eye-catching words like “million,” “billion,” “thrilled” and “revolutionized.”
In a kind of “state of the union” note, Netflix says its over 20 million streaming global users watched “more than two billion hours of TV shows and movies across 45 countries in the fourth quarter.” That’s courtesy Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who couldn’t resist the chance to highlight a point I happen to agree with: that the company offered all that content “for an incredibly low price.”
He’s talking about the streaming-only price, of course — just $8 a month here in the U.S. Put another way: My wife and I watched all of Friday Night Lights last year (arguably one of the best shows in television history), working through all five seasons at between 13 and 22 episodes each, and we did so for a fraction of what it would’ve cost to buy or rent the show anywhere else.
Netflix landed in hot water last summer when it announced it was hiking the price of its per-month combo streaming and DVD rental fee from $10 to $16. I called that “a trifling $6 a month more,” adding up to $72 annually, for the privilege of unlimited online video-watching and to check out one video disc at a time. Blockbuster’s $5 fee for a single 7-day rental, by comparison is nearly as much. Users howled anyway, I suspect because we view price hikes in bottom-line terms instead of the broader context. Is the service more expensive than it used to be? Absolutely. Is it still notably less expensive (assuming you watch a few shows or movies a week) than virtually any other video rental service (online or off)? Indeed.
But you’ll never find any of that in a corporate press release. Instead, Netflix goes on to highlight multi-year deals with CBS, Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate, Miramax, Open Road Films, NBCUniversal, Dreamworks Animation, MGM and the Disney-ABC Television Group (“among others”). And we have a date for Netflix’s original New-York-gangsta-in-Norway crime drama, Lilyhammer — February 6 in the U.S., Canada and Latin America — which’ll star Steven Van Zandt, who I know by way of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, but sadly not The Sopranos, which I have yet to watch.
Speaking of, how’s that probably somewhere behind-the-scenes deal to wrestle HBO away from DishOnline coming, guys?