By Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky
January 18, 2019
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Knowledge is good.

Fellow fans of Animal House will recognize this as the delightfully silly and subversive message etched into the base of a statue at the fictional Faber College.

Silly or not, it’s also true. And in the knowledge-imparting department, Apple and Netflix are moving in opposite directions. Apple last year said it will stop giving out iPhone unit sales data. Investors took that as a bad sign of things to come—and were right. Thursday, Netflix accelerated its very recent practice of disclosing viewership data.

Investors were annoyed for other reasons, primarily slower-than-expected revenue growth and forecasts. But there are all sorts of reasons Netflix’s sharing is a happy development. Investors and partners will be glad finally to know how Netflix shows perform. Netflix had been stingy with data on the theory that because it sells no advertising it didn’t have to prove viewership to anyone. It already divulged paid customers, of course. That number is nearly 140 million worldwide.

Despite the swoon in Netflix’s stock—that happens frequently—there’s another reason for optimism about the company. Analyst Mark Mahaney reckons it is the least exposed FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) company to regulatory risk. “Since it’s not an ad-supported business, Netflix may have much less reliance on personally identifiable information, a hot political issue these days,” Mahaney wrote to clients Thursday night. “Netflix is arguably more media- than tech-platform, and thus might avoid the current scrutiny that the latter are facing. And the CEO doesn’t personally own an influential newspaper that expresses opinions independent from political leaders.”


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Have a good long weekend. Data Sheet returns Tuesday.

Adam Lashinsky


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