Netflix have released their latest subscriber numbers, and whilst the company’s user base has certainly grown, the future is certainly in online movie delivery.
Netflix had 2.23 million subscribers at the end of Q3 2004 – up 73% from 1.29 million on its books at the end of Q3 2003. Only 4% of its current subscriber base are on free trials, and those 96% of paying subs brought in a projected US$21 million in Q3 2004.
Netflix’s current business model is to rent up to three DVDs at a time to customers via the postal service. With the growth of home broadband, sending films out in the mail evidently has a limited lifespan, and so the company recently partnered with TiVo in a venture to designed to switch the delivery mechanism to online – finally putting the “Net” in “Netflix”.
However, the company believes that their 25,000 title DVD library still has some legs on it – CFO Barry McCarthy commented in a statement: “Three years ago we shortened the estimated useful life for our DVD rental library from three years to one year. For a young company with limited operating experience, that accounting estimate was management’s best judgement of the useful life of catalogue content at that time. However, with several years of operating history behind us and based on analysis of this historical data, management’s current best judgement of the useful life of catalogue content is three years.”
SG Cowen and Co. report that things won’t be so simple for Netflix, and that they will face stiff competition from Blockbuster when they go online – Blockbuster’s brand and market share will impact Netflix’s subscriber base, both in its DVD by post and online rental business, over the next few quarters.