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Netflix Q4 results: 220k new streaming-only customers, beats earnings estimates (Update: no game rentals coming)

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Netflix's Q4 2011 earnings report is in, and the company indicates its streaming subscriber count is now 21.67 million. DVD subscribers were still down however, although not as much as expected with cancellations peaking in September when the services split, leaving it with a total number of 24.4 million customers. This closes out a tough 2011 that saw its subscriber count drop by 800k in Q3, and most recently resulted in the search for a new Chief Marketing Officer. The company exceeded its own targets for growth in streaming customers and domestically, the segment reported a higher-than-expected profit of $52 million.When it comes to its competition however, Netflix cosigned a rumor indicated today by the New York Post that Amazon may spin off its Prime Instant video service into a cheaper-than-Netflix standalone offering. For now however, it believes Amazon and Hulu offer only a fraction of its content, and net subscriber viewing hours that are less than 10 percent of the 2 billion --around 30 per member -- it reported during Q4.

Regarding the new 56-day delay for DVDs and Blu-ray discs from Warner Bros., it "didn't like" the new terms, but decided it was more efficient to keep a direct relationship for discs than to try buying discs from retail again, and expects more "differentiated dates" from studios going forward. With its Starz deal coming to an end soon, Netflix plans to plug the content hole by licensing some of the movies from Encore directly from the studios, and the kid-friendly Disney fare with flicks like The Adventures of Tin Tin and Rango from Paramount (via Epix) until its new Dreamworks deal takes effect in 2013. Interestingly, it also comments that "content is a differentiator", and that it's "increasingly" licensing content exclusively to fight its true competition, TV Everywhere services like HBO Go. We'll be back with any interesting remarks from the earnings call (scheduled for 6PM ET), until then check out the press release itself linked below.

Update: The earnings call (just finished) was predictably boring, but CEO Reed Hastings confirmed the company has "no plans" to offer videogames for rental, which had been announced as part of the later-retracted Qwikster spinoff. As far as offering current season episodes of TV shows for cord-cutters, it won't be bidding on those either. When it comes to 3D, Blu-ray 3D discs are already in the mix, while the company is "looking into" streaming 3D.

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