Netflix had a big year in 2013 with award-winning original content, new features and millions of new customers. Now, the company's fourth quarter report reveals it wrapped up last year with over 44 million customers worldwide. Interestingly, an entire section of the letter to investors is related to the recent appeals court ruling that struck down key parts of net neutrality. CEO Reed Hastings doesn't appear overly worried however, and says the most likely case is that ISPs "will avoid this consumer unfriendly path of discrimination," like extra fees or tiers for access to streaming video. If they do go that route however, the company will protest on its own behalf, and encourage customers to join in. In the US Netflix now counts over 33 million customers, and it predicts that by the end of the current quarter, it will be over 35 million, with 48 million total worldwide.
Another segment deals with its recent pricing tests, which Netflix says it hopes to boil down to "three simple options to fit everyone's taste." That said, it's not ruling out pricing changes for new members, but promises (in bold type) "existing members would get generous grandfathering of their existing plans and prices." We'll see if bold type is enough to quell the customer unrest that happened the last time Netflix shifted around its plans.
Speaking of those old plans, Netflix still maintains 6.9 million DVD subscribers, and plans to advertise the direct link to its disc business with dvd.netflix.com branding. Unlike its last address, Netflix also found time to shout to the competition, referencing Hulu's 3 CEOs in the last year and impressive growth, recent moves by Verizon -- it bought Intel's OnCue IPTV platform, a content delivery network and a streaming software firm -- the rise of Aereo and Sony's IPTV plans. Strong words from the company that's diving into 4K to maintain the perception that it's a leader in streaming -- Hastings and the rest of the team will take questions live on YouTube in a few minutes, check after the break for more details.
Netflix's earnings call had some technical difficulties, but while it was on the air, CEO Reed Hastings joked about sharing the account info for HBO CEO Richard Plepler. That's in response to Plepler's comments that he didn't worry much about HBO Go password sharing, which is similar to comments Hastings has made in the past. Hastings and content exec Ted Sarandos also knocked down the possibility of ads coming to Netflix any time soon, saying that they don't mesh well with the current vision of giving viewers what they want, when they want and how they want.