'Netflix bitch': CEO of vid-streaming site taunts HBO chief over results

Decent results too, with 43m subscribers. But pride does come before a fall


Over-the-top video streamer Netflix finished the year with over 43 million subscribers, almost all of whom pay, the company reported yesterday.

Netflix recorded revenue of $1.1bn in Q4 2013, including its legacy DVD-by-post business, and a slender net income of $48m. It's still going for growth, though, with 10.93 million punters outside the USA, and launched into Scandinavia and Holland late last year.

The company announced it will raise $400m of debt this year, bringing its total debt to $900m.

Netflix likes to compare itself to HBO, which it has overtaken in subscriber numbers (but not value) – and it likes to wind up the network, too. After HBO's CEO Richard Plepler described password-sharing as a “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers", Netflix CEO Reed Hastings responded with a jibe at the earnings call.

"So I guess Plepler ... doesn't mind me then sharing his [Netflix] account information. So it's plepler@hbo.com and his password is 'netflix bitch'," he joked.

But Netflix has had it pretty easy so far. It's made large back catalogues of other people's TV shows cheaply available. If it wants to be as ubiquitous as cable, it needs to invest in original shows, too.

It has started to do so, with its remake of House of Cards, the original Orange is the New Black and Lilyhammer, a fairly gentle comedy in which musician Steve van Zandt takes his Silvio Dante-alike mobster to Norway. But these are safe, focus-grouped choices and if it wants to earn the same loyalty as HBO, AMC and Showtime, it needs a range of original programming like The Sopranos, which is expensive and risky. (Netflix has also saved money by piggy-backing onto Amazon's Web Services. Amazon owns Netflix rival LoveFilm)

Eventually the headline-grabbing hand-waving mantra of "we're disrupting your industry" stops, and they have to start pleasing punters. At which point they're in the same business as every other incumbent.

Hastings also warned ISPs not to be tempted to impose a surcharge for carrying Netflix or degrade the service - a reminder of where the power lies in the so-called "net neutrality" narrative. Netflix alone now accounts for a third of peak-time internet traffic in the USA.

So often portrayed as vulnerable weaklings in the "net neutrality" narrative, it's actually Google and Netflix who wield the bully whip. In fact, should Google decide to withdraw its edge servers from an ISPs facilities, the ISP becomes "the one that doesn't do YouTube", and hence very unattractive indeed. With 89 per cent of Americans having a choice of two broadband suppliers, they only need to threaten to exercise that choice to pose a mortal threat to the biggest ISPs.

There's more in Hastings' letter to shareholders (pdf) ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading
  • Utility biz Delta-Montrose Electric Association loses billing capability and two decades of records after cyber attack

    All together now - R, A, N, S, O...

    A US utility company based in Colorado was hit by a ransomware attack in November that wiped out two decades' worth of records and knocked out billing systems that won't be restored until next week at the earliest.

    The attack was detailed by the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) in a post on its website explaining that current customers won't be penalised for being unable to pay their bills because of the incident.

    "We are a victim of a malicious cyber security attack. In the middle of an investigation, that is as far as I’m willing to go," DMEA chief exec Alyssa Clemsen Roberts told a public board meeting, as reported by a local paper.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021