Netflix tops 40 million customers total, more paid US subscribers than HBO

Netflix's results for the third quarter have arrived and one of its most important numbers, the total amount of US subscribers (not including trial accounts), has reached 29.93 million, more than HBO's last count of 28.7 million. Last year at this time it had notched 25.1 million US customers, and including trial subscribers it passed HBO's US customer base back in April. Internationally it's up to 9.19 million subscribers and is anticipating that it will add more than three million customers total in the next quarter. New original series Orange is the New Black has been a hit and while Netflix still isn't releasing viewing numbers, it says the show will end the year "as our most watched original series ever." Yes, bigger than House of Cards.

Regarding its original content push, Netflix has already rolled out some of the stand-up comedy specials it promised (Aziz Ansari's is next up) and says it will expand soon into original documentaries, largely based on the popularity of that kind of content among its customers. The second season of Lilyhammer will arrive in Q4 along with a new original series for kids from Dreamworks Turbo F.A.S.T., while 2014 holds the return of HoC, OITNB, Hemlock Grove and Derek.

Of course, while the original content grabs headlines, CEO Reed Hasting's letter to investors lays out the fact that a bigger percentage of its viewing hours are filled by its complete "season-after series" like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Scandal. Interestingly, in a change from previous letters there's no mention of competition like Amazon Prime, Hulu and Redbox Instant, but it does reference the possibility of cable deals, saying "we think it will be many years before cable set-top boxes match Internet set-top boxes for Netflix streaming volume." Netflix has an investor call scheduled for 5PM ET like many other companies, but unlike others it distributes it on YouTube as a live video broadcast, check it out embedded after the break plus our notes from the call.

Update: On the call, executive Ted Sarandos addressed the question of whether Netflix might jump into live sports content. Despite recent reports that the NFL might offer a second Thursday night game on services like Netflix or YouTube, he indicated that live content didn't seem like a good fit with Netflix's on-demand style. Also of note: Reed Hastings has Comcast's next generation X1 TV platform at home and says he uses it to stream Pandora, although there's no word on when / if a Netflix app will arrive. Reed also addressed what he sees as the "branding problem" faced by competition like Redbox and Amazon's Lovefilm (and Netflix, as it has shifted from a disc by mail operation to primarily streaming), as users go online and find a more limited selection of content than what each service provides on physical discs.