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Buying Netflix Stock Doesn't Have to Be Scary Stuff

By Rick Munarriz - Apr 9, 2013 at 6:15PM

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"Hemlock Grove" gives Netflix a new way to hook into subscribers next week.

Netflix (NFLX 2.13%) wants to creep you out next week, but that's a good thing.

Hemlock Grove -- a new show with blood-curdling aspirations based on a Brian McGreevy novel and directed by horror guru Eli Roth -- will stream exclusively on Netflix starting a week from Friday.

True to its "binge viewing" mantra, Netflix won't string viewers around with weekly cliffhangers. All 13 episodes of the series will be made available at the same time. It's a strategy that may have been criticized by industry analysts and television veterans with House of Cards in February, but viewers obviously don't have a problem with dictating the pace of their content consumption.

Netflix stock is on fire these days, and the leading streaming service provider has to make sure that it has the programming to match.

The show is unlikely to make the same kind of Emmy-magnetic waves that House of Cards did earlier this year, but it's hard to argue against the subject matter. American Horror Story has made Gothic horror trendy, and fans of Twilight may want to know that there are werewolves involved.

It remains to be seen how this busy slate of exclusive first-run programming on Netflix this year will fare. It doesn't help that it no longer provides monthly churn metrics, so all we have to go on is the ultimate net growth of subscribers.

Netflix began the year encouragingly strong on that front with 33.2 million global streaming accounts.

Most of the original programming buzz has been generated by House of Cards and next month's Arrested Development revival, but Netflix also has a few more shows along the lines of Hemlock Grove that could prove to be sleeper hits.

At a time when Netflix stock has more than tripled, the restored dot-com darling will need to make sure that it has more hits than misses along the way.

It's not as if Netflix will lose ground to the competition if it whiffs here and there. After all, have you assessed the competition?

Time Warner's HBO is the premium platform that Netflix often drums up as its biggest rival, but it's not a fair comparison. HBO has the quality proprietary content that Netflix craves, but the old-school model where costly subscriptions are tethered to even more expensive cable and satellite television plans prevent it from being a fast-growing service.

Amazon.com has the ambition -- matching Netflix in terms of the streaming smorgasbord as a stand-alone offering -- but its catalog remains vastly inferior to what Netflix has amassed over the years.

If Hemlock Grove is lucky, it will be as scary as the frightening lead the competition has let Netflix amass largely unchecked.

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