Hastings used the popular social media outlet to note that House of Cards is "now the #1 most popular TV show in the world, according to IMDb." And then, perhaps to deflect another round of unwelcome regulatory attention, he followed up by noting that he didn't have any hard numbers to share this time. "I still can't get [Netflix chief content officer] Ted Sarandos to tell me how many millions are enjoying it on Netflix," he wrote.
Clicking over to the Internet Movie Database rankings, you'll see that House of Cards is, indeed, the most popular TV series this week. The MOVIEmeter rating is based on actual browsing activity on the content information site, and not by any kind of voting or quality rating.
To put the top rating into perspective, House of Cards beat out AMC Networks' (NASDAQ: AMCX ) The Walking Dead, which aired a hotly anticipated midseason episode on Sunday after a two-month break. The top MOVIEmeter titles in feature films are Oscar contender Django Unchained, upcoming high-energy action flick Fast & Furious 6, and recent box-office topper Warm Bodies.
Looking over these top performers, it should be obvious that high MOVIEmeter ratings don't always translate into massive viewership. After all, Fast & Furious 6 hasn't hit theaters yet, and Django is a critical darling but not exactly a blockbuster. But all of them are legitimate eyeball magnets right now.
So it's fair to say that House of Cards is "popular," in the sense that people want to learn something about it. Does that translate into free trials and new subscribers? We don't know.
Hastings is unlikely to get in trouble for this particular Facebook posting, then. With more than 1 billion global users, it's hard to say that Facebook is a closed forum, or that news posted there won't be seen by investors. Hastings himself has 263,000 followers, including a fair helping of investors and writers. And this newsy tidbit is based on publicly available information anyhow -- with limited importance for Netflix's actual business prospects.
But regulators have overreacted before, and Hastings will probably overstep its invisible boundaries again. As a Facebook board member, you could even say that it's his job to keep pushing the envelope of how you can use the service.
Can Netflix fend off burgeoning competition, and will its international growth aspirations really pay off? These are must-know issues for investors, which is why we've released a brand-new premium report on Netflix. Inside, you'll learn about the key opportunities and risks facing the company, as well as reasons to buy or sell the stock. We're also offering a full year of updates as key news hits, so make sure to click here and claim a copy today.