This is sure to irk some broadband providers: The streaming video company unveiled today the “Netflix ISP Speed Index,” a Web site designed to help people see “which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide the best Netflix streaming experience.” The company offers data for all of the countries it serves. And the U.S. falls into the middle of the pack — No. 4 out of eight countries — with an average speed in February of 2.30 megabits per second. Finland tops the list with 2.57 mbps while Mexico is last with 1.65. But the U.S. tally includes ISPs with the fastest and slowest speeds in the Netflix universe. Google Fiber in Kansas City tops the chart with an average speed of 3.35. Cablevision’s Optimum service comes next with 2.35 — which should give it bragging rights in its competition with Verizon’s FiOS, at No. 5 with 2.10. Cox, with 2.12, was the month’s biggest gainer, rising five spots to No. 4. Charter (2.08) dropped two spots to No. 6 while Comcast (2.06) fell one spot to No. 7. Time Warner Cable (2.04) held at No. 9. At the bottom of the list are Clearwire (1.25), and DSL services from Verizon (1.37) and AT&T (1.43).
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had the best line of the day at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. Told that last year his company was the object of ”mystique, envy and fear” at the confab, Hastings said: ”Now it’s just pity.” Well, yes — considering that his company’s stock has fallen 77% since mid-July, when Netflix boosted prices by 60% for consumers who wanted to continue to receive DVDs and stream videos. ”We had done so many difficult things that we became overconfident,” Hastings says. “Our big obsession for the year was, ‘Let’s not live and die by DVD.’ ” But the change ”turned out to be a little too fast. … We berate ourselves tremendously for that lack of insight.” But his appearance at the UBS gathering was designed to demonstrate that Netflix is back on track — and that its shares are worth buying again. For investors who believe that Web video is going to soar, ”we’re the leading play on that thesis. … As long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore, it’s a great opportunity.” He adds that “there’s no effective competitor for exactly what we do.”
Hastings predicted that within the next 10 years about half of all TV viewing will come via the Internet. He says that TV manufacturers ”want you to live in their device.” While about a third of TV sets sold today can connect directly to the Internet, “in a few years most of the TVs sold will be smart TVs. … It’s a phenomenal revolution.” The biggest loser will be broadcast TV, he says. “It’ll be declining like land-line telephony. … To some degree we’ll look at broadcast in 20 years as being like (telephone) party lines.” And as broadband providers include more fiber optic lines in their networks, they’ll be able to transmit Internet video at speeds of 1 gigabit per second. “Peak Netflix viewing on a Saturday night could still fit through one fiber optic (line),” he says. “A gigabit is a tiny fraction of what’s possible over fiber optic.” Hastings says that providers shouldn’t have to raise prices, or resort to usage-based pricing, to handle all of that Internet video traffic — although they might try to do so. ”It would be unfortunate because it’s not based on the costs,” which are fixed, he says. Consumers also might balk. ”Time Warner Cable tried it a couple of years ago in Texas and backed down. … I doubt it will happen.”
The DVD rental and video streaming company is selling the notes to Technology Crossover Ventures. They can be converted into equity when they mature in late 2018, which could require Netflix to issue 2.33M shares. That translates into $85.81 a share, just 15% more than the closing price on Monday — and a far cry from the nearly $300 that the stock fetched as recently as mid-July. The deal also gives TCV the right to name one board member; it chose Jay Hoag, a TCV founding general partner who’s already a Netflix director.
The news didn’t sit well with investors: Netflix, which was down 4.6% during the trading day, fell an additional 2% in initial post market activity. A prospectus that Netflix issued in conjunction with the deal with TCV noted that it could require the video company “to dedicate a portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and investments and other general corporate purposes.” It also noted that the company lost more subscribers than it expected after July when it announced a 60% price increase for those who want to continue to rent DVDs and stream videos. The setback along with the growing payments for content “will likely continue to have an adverse impact on our results of operations. If we are unable to repair the damage to our brand and reverse …
This is the latest in a recent series of Netflix deals to secure movies to stream in the UK and Ireland. But this release doesn’t say that the Miramax agreement is exclusive, a contrast to the announcements with Lionsgate and MGM.
BEVERLY HILLS and SANTA MONICA, CA – November 16, 2011 – Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Miramax today announced a new multi-year digital licensing agreement that will bring a broad range of acclaimed Miramax films to Netflix members in the UK and Ireland.
Beginning in early 2012, Miramax titles will be available for Netflix members to watch instantly in the UK and Ireland streamed over the Internet to connected TVs, tablets, game consoles, computers and mobile phones.
Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Netflix announced in October that it would launch its service in the UK and Ireland early in 2012.
LOS GATOS, Calif., Nov. 15, 2011 – Coinciding with the first shipments of the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet™, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) today unveiled a new interface for Android-powered tablets that makes browsing and instantly watching unlimited TV shows and movies streaming from Netflix better than ever.
The redesigned Netflix experience is much more immersive and provides more focus on the growing Netflix catalog by displaying twice as many titles than the previous interface. In addition, through optimization for touch-enabled tablets, Netflix members can swipe through multiple rows of titles with larger artwork. As a result, it is now much easier to discover and instantly watch movies and TV shows on Android tablets.
This announcement comes one week after Netflix landed a similar deal with MGM to show movies in the pay TV window in the UK and Ireland. Here’s the release for the new agreement with Lionsgate:
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Nov. 14, 2011 – Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Lionsgate UK, a subsidiary of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE: LGF) today announced a new multi-year licensing agreement that will make Netflix the exclusive subscription streaming service in the UK and Ireland for first-run feature films from the studio.
Lionsgate UK titles will be available for Netflix members in the UK and Ireland to watch instantly in the pay TV window on their televisions, tablets, game consoles, computers and mobile phones, for a low monthly price. Netflix announced last month that it would launch its service in the UK and Ireland early in 2012.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Nov. 7, 2011 - Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. today announced a new multi-year licensing agreement that will make Netflix the exclusive subscription streaming service in the UK and Ireland for most first-run feature films from MGM.
MGM titles will be available for Netflix members in the UK and Ireland to watch instantly in the pay TV window on their televisions, tablets, game consoles, computers and mobile phones, for a low monthly price. Netflix announced last month that it would launch its service in the UK and Ireland early in 2012.
Appearing exclusively on Netflix within one year of their theatrical release will be such films as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” the highly-anticipated prequels to the Academy Award-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy by Peter Jackson, “Zookeeper” starring Kevin James, “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, and “21 Jump Street,” featuring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Ice Cube.
Something always seems to be a little weird when Netflix announces big news about itself — and today’s unveiling of its streaming deal with DreamWorks Animation is no exception. The news appeared to have been handed to The New York Times; it had the first story as well as interviews with executives from both companies. But that’s not the problem: What’s curious is why The Times felt confident enough to say that unnamed “analysts estimate (the deal) is worth $30 million per picture to DreamWorks.” Although there were no details to support that estimate, it quickly became perceived as a fact. For example, a Reuters story stated that the deal is “worth $30 million per picture to DreamWorks over a number of years.” If that’s true, then it’s a big deal; HBO currently pays the studio about $20M per picture. If the $30M figure for the Netflix deal is accurate, then Caris & Co analyst David Miller says his 2013 earnings estimate for DreamWorks “would therefore improve from $1.58 (per share) to $1.70.”
OK, so is it true? The companies don’t say: Many hours after the Times story ran, Netflix and DreamWorks jointly filed a press release that said “financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.” But some analysts find the $30M figure hard to believe. Susquehana Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov writes this morning that “we would be surprised if the terms for (DreamWorks Animation) are more favorable than those of their current deal with HBO. We think the change in pay TV partners was due to HBO shifting away from animation and not because (Netflix) offered significantly superior terms.” Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible also says that “it appears (DreamWorks) was kicked out of HBO and that (Netflix) was the buyer of last resort.”
The Netflix situation is becoming scary. The stock was down another 9.4% today, to $129.66. That means the company has lost 55.4% of its value since July 11, the day before it announced its decision to split the streaming video service from DVD rentals — upping the subscription price by 60% for those who still want both. Yesterday, CEO Reed Hastings apologized for his PR blunder by trying to gloss over that fact. He adding that the DVD-rental business will have a new name, Qwikster, and begin to rent video games as well. How low can Netflix go?
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had better hope that consumers are more forgiving than Wall Street. The company’s shares fell 7.4% on Monday following Hastings’ mea culpa for botching the roll out of Netflix’s decision in July to separate its streaming business from DVD rentals — he tried to gloss over the fact that it would raise prices by 60% for half of his customers, who want both. He also disclosed today that DVDs will be handled by a new stand-alone unit called Qwikster that will begin to rent games for XBox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii consoles. Netflix’ closing price of $143.75 is about half of what it was just before the July announcement, and down $64.96 from last Wednesday before the company said that its subscriber numbers for 3Q would be lower than it had forecast.
Savvy company watchers say they believe Hastings is scrambling to fix Netflix’ image because its board or large investors — or perhaps both — are becoming panicked. They have a lot riding on the belief that Netflix will remain the Internet’s leading alternative to cable TV and soar as broadband video becomes ubiquitous. Even after the recent drop in value, Netflix stock trades for an extraordinary 21 times expected earnings — nearly twice the multiple for most media companies. That means most of its value comes from investors’ faith that Netflix will become far more profitable than it is now.
But Hastings’ PR blunder …
UPDATE, 7:40 AM: Did I say Netflix stock could “take a hit”? Let’s make that a left hook to the jaw. The company’s down more than 13.7% in heavy volume early trading on a slightly up day for the overall market. Analysts are lining up to take their whacks at Netflix: Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett, who has a “neutral” recommendation, calls the company’s reduced 3Q subscription forecast a “rare, large and surprising misstep.” And Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov, also in the “neutral” camp, warns that 4Q subscriptions also could disappoint. Each 1M subscribers account for $11.2M in revenues and 2 cents in Netflix’ per-share earnings, he says.
PREVIOUS, 5:03 AM: Netflix stock could take a hit today: The company says this morning in a letter to shareholders that domestic subscriptions aren’t holding up as well as it anticipated in July after it announced that it would sell digital streaming and DVD rentals separately — raising the price of the combined service by 60%. Netflix says its 3Q report likely will show that it has 21.8M streaming customers, below the 22M it forecast in late July. And DVD-only rentals are way off: It now expects 2.2M subs vs 3M it anticipated. About 12M pay for both services, same as the July forecast. The company says: “We know our decision to split our services has upset many of our subscribers, which we don’t take lightly, but we believe this split will help us make our services better for subscribers and shareholders for years to come.”
Adding to the bad news from Netflix, Janney Capital Markets analyst Tony Wible reiterated his “sell” recommendation this morning in a report that says subscription growth could suffer after February when the company’s due to lose movies and TV shows from Starz. The premium cable channel recently said that it won’t renew its contract. Netflix “is now asking its subs to pay more for less,” Wible says.
UPDATE, 5:25PM: Dish Network is one of three remaining bidders for streaming video website Hulu, along with Amazon and Yahoo, an insider told The Financial Times today. The bids for Hulu reportedly are in the $1.5B-$2B range.
PREVIOUS: Just as Netflix’s price increase takes effect, Dish Network is setting up a streaming movie service for Blockbuster, Bloomberg reports. The move was hinted at last week when the satellite TV provider formally asked the government for permission to offer mobile high-speed Internet service. Dish’s Blockbuster streaming also is expected to land a content deal with Starz, which ended talks with Netflix yesterday. Some analysts, though, have suggested that was a negotiating ploy by Starz and that talks could resume. Since buying Blockbuster earlier this year, Dish has promoted the rental giant by offering three months of free DVD-by-mail for new Dish customers, and committed to keeping 1,500 of its stores open. Netflix’s new pricing plans for streaming-plus-DVD sparked a customer backlash and an attempt by Blockbuster to lure away Netflix customers unhappy with the change.
LOS GATOS, Calif., Aug. 16, 2011 — Netflix has made it easier and more fun for kids and families to instantly watch a huge range of kid-friendly TV shows and movies with its new “Just for Kids” experience.
Members can now click on the “Just for Kids” tab at the top of the Netflix home page and find a newly-designed section featuring content that’s perfect for children 12 and under. Kids will now be able to click on icons of their favorite characters – from “SpongeBob SquarePants” to “Dora The Explorer”, and from “Phineas and Ferb” to “Big Bird” – and find a deep selection of great TV shows and movies featuring that character.
Netflix Shares -9.6% In After-Market Trading Following Earnings Report; CEO Won’t Comment On DreamWorks Animation Talks
UPDATE, 3:25 PM: This is weird. It isn’t just that CEO Reed Hastings wouldn’t comment on the big story of the day — his talks to secure an exclusive streaming deal for DreamWorks Animation’s films. Netflix requires analysts to email their questions, so there was no opportunity for someone to ask a follow-up. Hastings simply says that “we’re always in talks with all of the different providers.” Ugh. As for the price change, Hastings says that although “we feel bad about having customers upset with us,” the company anticipated the widespread anger and still feels “great about the decision.” Netflix wasn’t looking specifically to raise consumer prices, he says. The company wanted to separate the U.S.-based DVD rental business from its global streaming-only business — the main focus now. “The pricing change was an outcome of that.” He says it will generate more revenue for the company by year’s end.
PREVIOUS, 1:27 PM: Looks like Netflix won’t escape unscathed from the 60% price hike for its combined DVD rental and online streaming service. CEO Reed Hastings says in a letter to shareholders that in Q3 “we will see only the negative impact of the pricing change,” with domestic subscriber net additions lower than in the same period last year. Also, revenues “will only grow slightly on a sequential basis.” Still, Hastings defends the price change saying that Q4 could be “our first billion-dollar revenue quarter, driven by strong U.S. performance.” Netflix says that in Q2 it generated $68M in net income, up 54.5% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $789M, up 51.7%. The profit figure, at $1.26 a share, solidly beat the $1.11 consensus among analysts who follow the company. But the revenue figure was light. Analysts expected nearly $792M.
Netflix reports its earnings and then will talk with Wall Street analysts tonight, and Dreamworks Animation does the same tomorrow. Both might benefit if they can announce a deal that would provide online streaming rights for Dreamworks’ films exclusively to Netflix in the pay TV window. Dreamworks hasn’t been able to cash in on the growing market for digital streaming so far. HBO controls those rights in the pay TV window through 2014. HBO may let DreamWorks out of that agreement early according to Bloomberg which broke the story about the deal with Netflix.
Wall Street is eager to see the details — especially how much Netflix is willing to pay for the Dreamworks rights — to determine whether Netflix “won a (Dreamworks) deal or was the buyer of last resort,” Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wibble says this morning. Investors also want to know whether the deal diminishes the chance that someone will buy Dreamworks. If HBO is willing to let the company out of its pay TV deal then that would suggest there’s a “low probability” that Time Warner might be interested, Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says.
There’s no question that Dreamworks Animation desperately needs an upbeat story to tell. The value of the company’s stock has fallen 28.6% in 2011. Investors are wondering how CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s studio will profit from the two films Dreamworks typically releases …
Here’s a deal that would reshape the online streaming business and set Netflix on its heels: Apple is “considering making a bid” for Hulu, Bloomberg reports today citing two people “with knowledge of the auction.” The story says that Steve Jobs’ company is “in early talks that may lead to an offer” which could come to more than $2B. But what’s just as interesting is that Disney, News Corp, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal are said to be telling all bidders that they’re prepared to continue providing programming to Hulu for five years — including two with exclusivity. Companies looking at Hulu have said that it would be hard to put a price tag on it without guaranteed programming. Now several are at least kicking the tires for the auction being run for Hulu by bankers Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners. Yahoo is known to be interested. CEO Carol Bartz wouldn’t comment on Hulu when asked about it in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are also looking closely — although Bloomberg says that Microsoft’s interest is waning.
PREVIOUS, 10:25 AM: It’s another bad day for Netflix. The stock is down about 4% in midday trading after Pacific Crest Securities downgraded the company to the equivalent of neutral from buy. The problem isn’t so much the PR blow that the home video firm took last week following its 60% increase in the price of its combined streaming and DVD rental service. Analyst Andy Hargreaves says that a you’d need to make what he calls “aggressive” assumptions to envision the company adding lots of subscribers or improving its profits. That would “leave little room for missteps or changes in market conditions,” he writes.
Netflix also riled some customers this morning: Many reported that they were unable to use the streaming service early this morning. A few hours after the problems were first reported Netflix tweeted that the problem had been fixed.
UPDATE: Netflix Shares Close -4.1% After Price-Hike Backlash; Blockbuster Offers Deal To Lure Rival’s Angry Subscribers
UPDATE: 12:00 PM: Rival Blockbuster has just pounced on Netflix’s public relations problem, announcing that it is launching a nationwide promotion in which existing Netflix customers who switch to one of Blockbuster’s two Total Access plans (1 disc at a time for $9.99 a month or 2 discs at a time for $14.99 a month) will receive a 30-day free trial. The company, which recently was purchased at a bankruptcy auction by Dish Network, said that besides a lower price it offers benefits Netflix doesn’t: availability of many new releases 28 days before Netflix, unlimited in-store exchanges, video game rentals and no extra charge for Blu-ray movies. “Blockbuster quickly responded to the cries of Netflix customers,” Blockbuster president Michael Kelly said in the release announcing the promotion. “Blockbuster Total Access is Netflix ‘without the wait.’ The combination of DVDs by mail and unlimited in-store exchanges provides more than 100 million people living near Blockbuster stores immediate convenience and unparalleled choice.” The offer is good through Sept. 15; Netflix customers can go to Blockbuster’s website to enroll or show a red Netflix envelope at a Blockbuster store.
PREVIOUS, 10:11 AM: It’s shocking to see how badly Netflix appears to have underestimated the general confusion and anger that has followed the announcement on Tuesday that it’s raising by 60% the price of its combo DVD-by-mail rental and video-streaming service. More than 5,000 mostly furious customers responded to the Netflix blog post unveiling what BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield calls “perhaps the boldest single move in (Netflix) history.” And Netflix shares are down about 3.6% in midday trading as Wall Street wonders whether the company raised prices enough to cover revenue it will lose from people who cancel the service. Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says that “few will pay the jarringly higher price” for the streaming and DVD combo plan and “most will move to (Netflix’s) cheaper streaming-only” service. Netflix could lose some of its most profitable customers — the ones who pay the monthly fee for DVD rentals but don’t bother to order many discs. Merriman Capital’s Eric Wold says he “would not be surprised” if many of those subscribers bailed on Netflix to rent DVDs from Redbox’s $1-a-night kiosks. But Goldman Sachs’ Ingrid Chung says Netflix will probably come out ahead: The company makes a much higher profit from streaming than it does from DVD rental, and “a very high number of subs would have to churn off to offset the pricing increase.”
NBCUniversal is making more episodes available from programs such as 30 Rock and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But they don’t include shows from the current season — and NBCU can make similar deals with other online distributors.
NEW YORK and LOS GATOS, Calif., July 13, 2011 – Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution today announced a multi-year renewal of their licensing agreement expanding the selection of non-exclusive NBCU film and TV library titles available to watch instantly streaming from Netflix.
Programming under the deal includes prior-season series across multiple NBCU networks, including NBC hits “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Parenthood.” All future seasons of these shows will be available on Netflix on a one season delay basis. Under the deal, Netflix members will also be able to enjoy prior season episodes of “Law and Order: SVU” and “The Event.”
Also available to watch instantly streaming from Netflix will be shows from NBC Universal’s cable networks including prior season episodes of “Warehouse 13,” “Psych,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane”; classic television series such as “Leave it to Beaver,” “Adam 12″ and “Crossing Jordan”; and such great Universal Pictures movies as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Motorcycle Diaries.”