Netflix has achieved a remarkable victory in the US: it is now the nation’s largest digital pay-TV platform, bigger than Comcast, DirecTV or Time-Warner. Netflix, as at December 30th, has 20 million subscribers to either to its streaming movie service or postal-supply system. Add in analogue subs and Comcast recovers the top spot (22.8m subs), but the Netflix news is an indicator – perhaps – of a dangerous trend.
Cable giant Comcast has 19.7 million digital subs, followed by satellite service DirecTV (19.2m), EchoStar’s Dish (14.1m) and Time-Warner at 9.1 million.
During 2010 Netflix added 8.12 million subscribers, helping drive annual revenues to $2.16 billion. That’s the good news. But there’s also bad news which if matched by conventional pay-TV operators would have their shareholders tearing their hair out. The bad news comes in the form of churn stats, which at 50 per cent are huge when compared with the cable or satellite pay-TV sector, while Netflix’s ARPU is also pretty miserable at just $12.19 per month.