1. Despite the critical drubbing that Netflix’s Hemlock Grove has taken, the series, unbelievably, performed better than House of Cards did in early viewing. That suggests to me that my Twitter feed is completely disassociated with reality because House of Cards was the only topic of conversation on the weekend of its release, while — besides some general bitchery — Hemlock Grove wasn’t oft discussed. If the critics are right (and Josh’s sampling supports their complaints), it looks like, even on Netflix, lesser content wins out, at least when it involves werewolves.
2. Nevertheless, while House of Cards did not result in significant subscriber growth, and while Netflix doesn’t expect Arrested Development to have an immediate impact on subscriber growth either, the company does expect to “double-down” on original content. Bidding for second-run cable programming is getting more competitive with Hulu and Amazon, and Netflix sees original content as the best way ahead to grow subscribers.
3. Case in point: Netflix is dropping Nickelodeon, BET and MTV programming next month, and while it may negotiate licensing for a few individual shows, Spongebob Squarepants likely will not be one of them. I assume this is a huge problem for parents with brain-damaged children.
4. The overall strategy, however, is working, as yesterday Netflix also announced that it had surpassed HBO in total number of subscribers, 29.1 million to 28.7 million. HBO still has a 114 million to 7 million advantage is subscribers internationally, however.
5. In fact, it’s been a spectacular turnaround for Netflix since the public relations disasterbacle just two years ago when Reed Hastings raised subscription prices and attempted to spin off the DVD-by-mail service. It has not been without its hiccups, however. Like HBO, Netflix still has to address the problem with multiple parties using the same subscription account without paying. Netflix announced one step to perhaps offset that issue: They are rolling out a family plan for $11.99 per month, which will allow four simultaneous Netflix streams instead of the two offered with the $7.99 plan. I’m not sure if that will help or hurt, as an additional $4 a month might allow even more people to use the same subscription account. At least, however, Netflix will get a few more dollars in the deal, and there will be fewer arguments among roommates and friends-of-roommates who knock each other off during the middle of The Vampire Diaries.