It's official. Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) isn't just recession-resistant, it's recession-magnetic.
Netflix is announcing this morning that it is passing the 10-million-subscriber mark. It's a lofty milestone and a refreshing surprise. The DVD rental giant started out the year with just 9.4 million members.
The company's guidance seemed aggressive last month. It was looking to close out the quarter with 700,000 to 900,000 net new subscribers during the period. It's incredible to find it landing 600,000 of those net new accounts, and we're not even halfway through with the quarter.
I've been a Netflix subscriber -- and shareholder -- since 2002, but I should have seen the good news coming. My younger sister finally joined the Netflix family last month, with my nephew coming aboard just last week.
So, what's the secret sauce here? Obviously, the convenience of mail delivery and the open-ended nature of the unlimited rentals on the company's most popular plans are resonating with people.
The recession is eating into social outings. The old "dinner and a movie" dating staple is becoming the more frugal "cooking and Netflix" homebody fix. The company's decision to make its Web-streaming product available at no additional cost to active subscribers -- and striking deals with existing Internet-tethered set-top appliances like TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) DVRs and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Xbox 360 -- is working. Sure, the 12,000 titles available through Netflix's streaming option aren't the hot releases everyone else is selling or renting, but there's plenty of variety to find something appealing.
The news comes at a convenient time, eating into the buzz that Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI ) generated yesterday after announcing its video game delivery service.
There are certainly plenty of companies angling for the couch potatoes these days. Between Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , and Microsoft charging into digital delivery, and cable companies like Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) ramping up their on-demand offerings, everyone wants a piece of the hunkered-down public.
Then again, who says that this is a fight between Netflix and everybody else? If the pie continues to grow -- and clearly it is -- there is plenty of room for everybody. All you need is a bigger tub of popcorn, and we're all set.
Some items with immediate availability on your Netflix reading queue: