Netflix Is Getting All Sentimental

The holidays are here and Netflix  (NASDAQ: NFLX  )  is out with a new seasonally themed commercial

The spot takes a look at several decades of a family getting together for Christmas, told from the perspective of a tree-topper ornament. It runs through the near misses that the ornament has had over the years given the rambunctious nature of the relatives, but it ultimately closes with the family gathering around the TV to catch Forrest Gump streaming on Netflix. 

"When the McDermotts get together to watch something on Netflix, I gotta say it makes me smile," she concludes. "Then again, it's sorta painted on my face."

Netflix pitching itself as a holiday tradition may seem out of place. It obviously wasn't around during the 34-year span depicted in the commercial. Netflix didn't roll out its streaming service until 2007, and it took a bit longer than that for the platform to become available on Web-tethered devices that made the viewing process seamless on TV.

One can also argue that Netflix streaming and tradition are strange bedfellows given the limited nature of the content-licensing deals between studios and the dot-com darling. If a movie or show isn't faring well on the platform, or if the studio demands too much for a renewal, it's not beyond Netflix to pull the plug. This isn't the A Christmas Story marathon on TBS that you can count on every Christmas Eve. 

But it is clear that Netflix is growing. It's now serving up more than a billion hours of content a month. It closed out its latest quarter with 31.1 million domestic subscribers, up sharply from the 25.1 million stateside streaming accounts it watched over a year earlier. No one is even close to Netflix. Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  )  would be the closest thing that Netflix has to a rival, but it's a distant competitor at best. 

The only reason that Amazon is even in contention is that it offers its streaming service at no additional cost to folks paying for expedited merchandise deliveries through Amazon Prime. It also does what Netflix has inexplicably yet to do by offering newer movies and TV show episodes on a pay-per-stream basis. But would Prime Instant Video even be the silver medalist if Amazon started charging for it as a stand-alone platform like Netflix? 

In the end, the tree-topper in the ad is probably a lot like Netflix shareholders. The stock is now nearly a seven-bagger since bottoming out two summers ago. They're on top. They're smiling. They survived the near brushes with disaster.

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