Spotlight: Online streaming company Netflix is having a championship year

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-26 17:26:14|Editor: Yurou Liang
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by Julia Pierrepont III

LOS ANGELES, July 25 (Xinhua) -- By any measure, Netflix, the on-demand, online streaming giant, is having a championship year.

At a time when "binge-watching" has entered our daily lexicon, by using affordable, user-friendly technology that allows viewers to pick and choose what they want to watch and when they want to watch it, Netflix has anticipated consumer demand for power over their own viewing habits.

Netflix operating income has continued to rise on a year-over-year basis, and they boast a market capitalization of over 79 billion U.S. dollars.

In fact, in the first six months of 2017, Netflix added 21 percent more subscribers than it did the same period the previous year, posting a membership gain of 5.2 million subscribers that crushed the projected 3.2 million they floated in April.

Such unexpected gains earned them a 10 percent stock bump, resulting in trading after hours above their all time high of 166.87 U.S. dollars per share. Moreover, their seven Academy Award nominations, 91 Emmys/ Daytime Emmys, four Golden Globes, three BAFTAs, seven Critics Choice, and 11 SAG Awards, show that things are going very well for Netflix.

International growth is leading the charge, with a healthy, new-user boost that topped 4.14 million, well above the conservative 2.6 million the Netflix brass had anticipated and ahead of the more modest 1.07 million gain domestically.

"It was a good quarter," quipped CEO Reed Hastings, with his characteristic gift of understatement.

This isn't the first time the internet monolith has surprised their naysayers. In 2016, they experienced a fourth quarter subscriber rush that culminated in a 19 million-member gain for the year.

Unlike television networks imprisoned by the inescapable limitations of a 24-hour broadcast day, Netflix is a virtual "Whovian" Time Lord, with a digital, on-demand platform as unfettered by time as the Tardis.

And they can afford to throw millions at new shows, just to attract new subscribers. This has resulted in huge winners like "Orange Is the New Black", Kevin Spacey's "House of Cards", the Duffer brothers' "Stranger Things", the Asian-centric "Master of None", and the teen suicide opus "13 Reasons Why", as well as the near misses of "GirlBoss", the Washowski sisters' "Sense 8", and "The Get Down".

But not everyone is applauding Netflix's rise to dominance. Disruptive technology is often a good thing, filmmakers concede, but many feel Netflix goes a step too far. Unlike Amazon, which allows a 90-day window for filmmakers to screen their movies in cinemas to theatrical audiences as they are designed to be, Netflix insists on a simultaneous release online or no theatrical release at all.

Filmmakers contend this seriously undercuts theatrical revenues and makes getting that coveted theatrical release virtually impossible. Historically, the value of a film in follow-on markets such as television, cable, pay-per-view and online is pegged to how well it does in the box office. If you remove this lynch pin, a domino-effect of business uncertainty ensues.

Though Netflix appears to be leading the charge, but they won't be storming the citadel alone. Also in the race for online supremacy are Amazon and Apple, both formidable competitors with a history of disrupting entire industries.

The fact that these three giants are now facing off in the content-provider game simply underscores Hollywood's oldest adage: "Content is king."