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Summary:

Netflix continued to post impressive quarterly financial numbers, ending the first quarter 2011 as the largest subscription video service in North America. It now has 23.6 million subscribers in total, compared to Comcast’s 22.8 million pay TV subscribers in the U.S.

Those days of watching hours of Netflix together may soon end.

Netflix continued to post impressive quarterly financial numbers, ending the first quarter 2011 as the largest subscription video service in North America.

In the first quarter, Netflix added 3.6 million subscribers, ending the period with more than 23.6 million subscribers in total. That was up 69 percent from the 14 million subscribers it had a year ago. To put that in context: Comcast ended 2010 with 22.8 million pay TV subscribers. While it’s always possible the cable company could report subscriber additions in the first quarter, it’s unlikely to do so, given its declines over the last several quarters.

Most of Netflix’s customer additions came in the U.S., where it added 3.3 million new users to end at 22.8 million subscribers. Internationally, Netflix added an additional 290,000 subs, to bring total international users to 800,000.

Netflix’s revenue for the quarter came in at $719 million, which was 46 percent higher than the prior year’s first-quarter sales of $494 million. The company recorded net income of $1.11 cents a share, compared to 59 cents a share in the year-ago quarter and 87 cents a share in the fourth quarter of last year.

Netflix forecast 24 million to 24.8 million subscribers in the U.S., and expects to have between 900,000 and 1.05 million international subs, by the end of the second quarter. The company expects domestic revenues between $762 million and $778 million, and international revenues between $16 million and $20 million. Total net income is forecast between $50 million and $62 million, or 93 cents to $1.15 per share.

  1. Very misleading headline. Netflix may have more subscribers than Comcast, but to write it’s bigger than Comcast is ridiculous for about 100 reasons.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Double T. We were, of course, referring to the size of the subscriber base in the original headline. We’ve revised the head to make the point clearer.

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  2. One of many nails in the coffin of traditional media.

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  3. One of the reasons Comcast’s numbers aren’t even lower is that they have customers like me who have high speed internet and basic cable, but who don’t even use the cable part. Every time I call to disconnect the basic cable they give me a discount to stay a customer. I need the high speed internet in order to get my netflix movies (it’s the only game in my town). I wish there were some competition for high speed internet.

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  4. This is really an absurd headline. Netflix may have more subscribers, but at a far lower profitability than Comcast, who can sell one pipe to a house and squeeze three services out of it. Comcast could buy Disney. They’re monolithic. Netflix is still a drop in the pond compared to Comcast.

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    1. And, w/o Comcast (or another ISP) you can’t stream Netflix. Only watch dvd’s.

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  5. Based on my current spending trends, I will likely soon be paying more to Amazon for instant videos than my monthly Netflix subscription. The lack of depth in the Netflix streaming catalog is really driving this change for me. I suspect I’m not alone. Amazon has done a good job of getting their service distributed. I get Amazon’s service on my Tivo and my Sony TV. Since I’m a Prime customer I’m starting to watch more of teh included content there since I don’t have to visit a web site to add it to my list of accessible items. Amazon really seems like a threat to Netflix to me. Plus, Amazon wins even if Netflix addresses their current shortcomings since Netflix apparently uses Amazon Web Services to run at least part of their business. Amazon is looking pretty good to me right about now but this is obviously a fast moving space.

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    1. Was about to post a comment here on facebook until I saw that it will “also be posted to GigaOM”. Hmmm.

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  6. Yes, maybe the headline is questionable, but that is somewhat splitting hairs. The more interesting fact is that paying for general content is becoming obsolete. The preference is now to pay for content relevant to ones interest, and is accessible when you need it. We are seeing similar trends in the newspaper industry where as people rather subscribe to niche articles and want it ready on their mobile devices at a click of a button, rather than waiting for the morning paper.

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  7. You have to know that there’s some angry meetings going on today at cable companies everywhere, somebody’s getting fired for sure.

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  8. Cable can go the way of the 8 track player as far as I care. It’s the worst of both possible worlds: advertising AND you pay a monthly fee!

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  9. One reason I can definitely say why is because Comcast customer service, in my personal opinion, pales in galactic sized proportions to Netflix customer service on every level.

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