The House of Cards effect: Netflix tops $1B in Q1 revenue, near 30M U.S. subscribers


Credit: Netflix

Looks like House of Cards has been working for Netflix (s NFLX): The streaming service made more than $1 billion in revenue for the first time in its corporate history in Q1 of 2013, according to financial results published Monday. And with solid subscriber additions, Netflix is also on target to hit 30 million subscribers in the U.S. this quarter.

Revenue rose to $1.02 billion in Q1, compared to $889 million in Q1 of 2012. The company added 2.03 million domestic subscribers and now has 29.17 million subscribers in the U.S., compared to 23.41 million in Q1 2012. Internationally, Netflix added 1 million subscribers, which brings the total number of subscribers outside the U.S. to 7 million, compared to 3 million a year ago.

Net income on the other hand is down a bit, coming in at $3 million, or $0.05 earnings per share. Income was dragged down by costs related to debt refinancing, and the company said that it would have had $19 million in net income, or $0.31 per share, without those costs. In Q1 of 2012, Netflix incurred a net loss of $2 million.

The company attributed the results in part to House of Cards, stating that the launch of the show and related marketing activities “provided a halo effect on our entire service.” Of course, we don’t know how many of the new subscribers signed up specifically for House of Cards, or even how many watched the show: Netflix made a conscious decision not to release any ratings for any of its content.

Other than the financials, there were two interesting announcements made in the letter to shareholders: Netflix will introduce a family streaming plan that will allow users to stream to four devices at a time in the U.S. soon. The plan will cost $12 a month, compared to Netflix’s regular $8 plan, which only allows two simultaneous streams.

However, the company doesn’t think this will add a lot to its bottom line: “We expect fewer than 1% of members to take it.” One should note that this is the first time the company has experimented with pricing since it split streaming and DVD plans back in 2011.

Netflix has recently been experimenting with pesonalized profiles to make it easier for family members to find recommendations, and the Q1 letter to investors states that this will be introduced globally in the coming months.

Netflix will hold a conference call at 3pm PT to discuss its results.



The hard reality about Netflix right now is that it’s programming is very uneven and unsatisfying. The movies are mostly grade Z or shopworn classics, and the series are mostly tired reruns. While I still go to Netflix at those “moments of truth”, I’m usually disappointed.

I usually move on to Amazon or Hulu Plus, or cable VOD, where for a couple of dollars I can watch something I really want to invest my time in. Or my DVR, which is incrementally free, and by definition tailor-made for me.

Convenience and ubiquity alone are not going to do it. The third leg of the stool, consistently high-quality programming, is missing so far from Netflix. I know this is expensive, but if you want to play with the big boys you’re going to have to spend more than $50,000 per episode per year on marquee content. Try $500,000 or more per episode, with 260+ new episodes per year, like HBO, AMC and the broadcast networks. I know it sounds outrageous, but you’ve got to pay to play or a lot of those new “halo effect” customers are going to churn right out once they realize that “House of Cards” was just a stunt.

Keith Hawn

“The company attributed the results in part to House of Cards, stating that the launch of the show and related marketing activities “provided a halo effect on our entire service.” ”

Really? That’s enough justification for the (dopey) headline to this story…?


I am one of the 30 million subscribers. I do wish that they offered more content. After being a subscriber for two years I feel like I have watched everything i want to.

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