Updated. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings talked a lot of about connected and mobile devices during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, emphasizing how important tablets, the Apple TV and connected TVs are to the company. He didn’t get into any numbers, but a recent jobs posting reveals Netflix is aggressively expanding its device footprint: “Together with our partners, we’ve shipped over 800 different models of Netflix-enabled devices and are planning to keep this momentum going both domestically and internationally,” the posting reads. A company spokesperson confirmed the number in an email, but added that the number “increases all the time.”
Half a year ago, Netflix was only available on around 450 devices. But it’s not only the number of devices that’s changing; usage patterns are shifting as well. Netflix has traditionally seen most of its device usage on game consoles. Network management specialist Sandvine reported last year that the PS3 alone was responsible for more than 30 percent of all Netflix traffic. On Wednesday’s call, Hastings highlighted a few device categories that didn’t play as much of a role just a year ago.
Asked about the possibility of an Apple-made TV set, he said he doesn’t know what Apple has in store for the TV market. He did, however, emphasize that the existing Apple TV set-top box has been “really successful” for Netflix. Apple sold 1.4 million units of the device in the fourth quarter, which brings the total to 4.2 million units sold. As a frame of reference, Roku has only sold 2.5 million devices so far.
Hastings also talked about the growing importance of tablets, which are especially interesting as a mobile device to Netflix because most people use them via Wi-Fi, so video viewing doesn’t collide with carriers’ data caps. And people are using their iPads, Kindle Fires and Android slates a lot for watching Netflix: “We do see people enjoying a lot more of their viewing on tablets relative to the PC,” Hastings said. That’s significant, because PCs used to account for close to 20 percent of all Netflix traffic just a few months ago.
The last device category highlighted by Hastings was Smart TVs. It looks like consumers are finally connecting their TV sets to the Internet, if only to watch Netflix: “Smart TVs is one of our fastest growing device categories,” Hastings said, adding that the long-term trend for connected TVs is “very positive.”
Update: A Netflix spokesperson sent us the following clarification via email: “Reed did say there was more viewing on tablets relative to pcs, which is true — compared with a year ago. Total viewing on PCs is still higher than tablets but (the) gap is narrowing.”