Shares of Netflix fell 5.8% today as the king of online movie rentals took some hits from multiple sides during the past 24 hours — a significant dent in the fender for a company whose stock more than tripled last year. Earlier in the day, Warner Bros. announced that it is using Facebook to offer pay-per-view movies for 48 hours in exchange for 30 Facebook Credits ($3) to its network of more than 500 million users. Selected movies will be offered on each film’s Facebook page, starting today with The Dark Knight. The move comes on the heels of initiatives from such players as Time Warner (HBO Go), which seek to find their own way against Netflix. As another recent example, Comcast cable president Neil Smit said Monday during a Deutsche Bank investors conference in Florida that he his confident his company can compete in the sector via video-on-demand offerings and new content, compared with Netflix’s emphasis on library titles.
The online DVD and streaming rental provider which keeps announcing Big Media deal after deal also announced today that it now has 20 million subscribers and expects to have perhaps as many as 23 million by the end of 2011′s first quarter. But the real news is that Netflix blew past Wall Street’s forecasts with its 2010′s fourth-quarter profits jumping 52% with earnings of $47M (compared to $31M a year ago). Revenue rose 34% to $596M.
The British equivalent of Netflix will add 100s of MGM titles to its online streaming service. Lovefilm has 1.4 million subscribers – all of whom have access to streamed movies as part of their membership — making it the third-largest UK subscription movie service after Sky and Virgin Media. There are 5,000 titles available to watch over the internet, compared to over 67,000 on DVD. Lovefilm hopes to double the number of streamed titles to 10,000 available by Christmas – half the number currently available stateside on Netflix. It originally thought that download-to-own (DTO) was the way to go, launching its DTO service in April 2006 with King Kong. Instead, the BBC’s on-demand catch-up service the iPlayer attuned customers to streaming.
London-based ContentFilm has sold a package of 10 of Nick Broomfield’s best docs to online movie service Babelgum. Fans of Broomfield’s docs including Kurt & Courtney, Biggie and Tupac and Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam can watch them for free on their iPhone. ContentFilm and Babelgum will share back-end revenue in the event the ad-supported online platform recoups its minimum guarantee. If you’re not familiar with Broomfield’s work, do check it out. Moments when the camera’s jiggling because his cameraman’s so nervous about what they’re filming are hilarious.
Broomfield says: “I like to shoot on the fly, so it makes a certain kind of sense that a film like Kurt & Courtney would be viewed outdoors or on a long Tube ride with a compact device that can fit in your pocket.”