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Netflix Uses Bad Poetry to Break Good News

By Rick Munarriz – Feb 4, 2014 at 9:43AM

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings breaks news on Facebook again.

"I'm a pitiful failure as a Renaissance man," Netflix (NFLX 1.20%) CEO Reed Hastings says in a new The New Yorker interview. When it comes to poetry, he proved that with a sorry stab at haiku on his Facebook page over the weekend. 

Icicles threaten
screen glows my favorite shows
two billion hours wow

Ouch. But, wait, did Hastings just reveal that Netflix is now serving 2 billion hours of content a month? It certainly seems that way. Why isn't this bigger news?

Two years ago, Netflix was bragging about serving 2 billion hours of content during the entire holiday quarter of 2011. Netflix had 23.5 million video streaming subscribers worldwide at the time. It's now up to 44 million streaming accounts and traffic has now tripled over the past year. It's great to see usage growing faster than users. This indicates that the typical subscriber is streaming more, milking more value out of Netflix's buffet. 

The next time someone argues that there's nothing good to see on Netflix, show them the metrics proving that subscribers are accelerating their use. 

Facebook may seem like an unlikely place for Hastings to declare such a major milestone, but it's not without precedent. Hastings revealed through a Facebook status update in summer 2012 that Netflix was serving 1 billion hours a month of content. Now that Facebook has been approved as a way to disclose corporate information, why should Hastings stop? Besides, Hastings actually sits on Facebook's board of directors. One can say that Hastings is returning the favor by breaking news on the social networking site.

No streaming service comes close to Netflix's 2 billion hours of content in January. Yes, Pandora (P) is the leading music streaming service -- serving up a record 1.58 billion hours in December -- but it's an audio platform that is consumed primarily by freeloaders. Netflix is a premium service.

Pandora may have narrowly beaten Netflix to 1 billion hours of monthly content served two years ago, but Netflix won the race to 2 billion, and it wouldn't be a surprise if at some point next year we see Hastings breaking the news about crossing the milestone of 3 billion hours of monthly video content served.

When it happens, let's hope that Hastings leaves the haiku to the pros.


Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook, Netflix, and Pandora Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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