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Netflix celebrates Q4 success of 1 million new subscribers and eyes bigger growth ahead; Roku too

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At our last update after Q1 '09, Netflix had just triumphantly smashed through the 10 million customer barrier, although that's well in the rear view mirror now that the company is celebrating the addition of 1 million customers in the last quarter alone. With a subscriber base of 12.3 million (48% of whom have checked out a movie on Watch Instantly last year) its next step is to expand beyond U.S. borders, with plans to offer a streaming-only package to an unnamed new country in the latter half of this year; Hacking Netflix guesses Canada or even the UK could be potential expansion targets. Even the possibility of a Disney/Starz fallout affecting streaming didn't dampen the mood, during the earnings call CEO Reed Hastings seemed confident it could keep doing deals for compelling movies going forward, with WB, Sony, MGM, Paramount and others either signed up or renewed during Q4 alone. Still, don't expect those dealings to extend to new releases -- Hastings is comfortable sticking with a cable-like viewing window for internet delivered movies in combination with the existing disc rentals, for now.

Even Roku, closely tied to Netflix's internet-to-TV efforts since they began, is thinking big. As CEO Anthony Wood tells Bloomberg, we can expect the box itself to reach the low, low price of free sooner rather than later as the company works out revenue sharing deals with various subscription and video on-demand services, bringing it up to "the same kinds of channels that any cable operator can offer." It's set goals of 1 million set-top boxes sold by the end of the year (already over 500,000) and 100 channels, we figure another half-off sale or two should get things done in no time.

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