5 Things We Learned from the Netflix Earnings Interview
If you didn’t tune in to Netflix’s earnings video on Monday afternoon, we’ve got you covered.
The Q&A with CEO Reed Hastings and other senior execs, live streamed on YouTube following the release of the company’s first-quarter earnings report, covered a lot of ground. Here’s what you missed:
- First, the basics. Yes, Netflix added an impressive 6.7 million subscribers during the first quarter of 2016. That number includes 4.5 million new customers from its growing international markets, which is music to investors’ ears. But the company also projected second-quarter growth falling below expectations (just two million new international subscribers), sending its stock price down more than 11%.
- Bring on the competition. Hastings, never one to shy away from making grand predictions (like, um, the death of traditional TV in the next decade or two), said last year that Amazon would come out with a standalone streaming service priced below Netflix’s offering. Well, now it’s happening, and the CEO insists the competition is all just proving his point: So-called “linear TV” will soon be displaced. “This is all part of the natural evolution from linear TV to Internet TV,” the CEO argued yesterday in response to a question about increasing competition from Amazon.
- Three words: global, global, global. Netflix may have disappointed investors with its second-quarter projections for international growth, but it spent much of its earnings interview on YouTube trying to explain its strategy and assuage fears. “You haven’t yet seen a normalized pattern of growth from us because we’ve been layering on new markets as we grow,” posited CFO David Wells. The exec pointed to last year’s successful launches in Australia and New Zealand as examples of successful overseas growth—and tough comparisons to this coming quarter. (To translate: International growth is going to be lumpy, but Netflix thinks there is plenty of global demand for Orange is the New Black.)
- We’re not scared of The Screening Room. Unlike the movie theater industry, Netflix claims it welcomes The Screening Room, the new venture aiming to stream feature films directly to your living room at the same time as they debut on the silver screen. “The Screening Room would be a great way to get content in front of consumers if they’re willing to pay for it,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
- You ain’t seen nothing yet. Speaking of streaming feature films, Netflix’s ambitions to take on the movie industry (while simultaneously partnering with studios) is only growing. “The really big productions are just terrific for us in global brand building,” Hastings said during the Q&A session. They’re also terrific at helping Netflix burn through $1 billion in cash, which it did last year and expects to do again in 2016. “You should look at our original films similar to a studio slate of films,” suggested Sarandos, answering a question on the mix of movies in the pipeline. “Whether or not a movie at the Star Wars-level makes sense, we’ll see.”