“There’s still an echo and a bruise” from summer 2011 when Netflix infuriated customers by splitting the streaming and DVD rental operations — dramatically raising the price for those who wanted to continue to receive both services — CEO Reed Hastings told analysts this evening. The strong subscription numbers from the last three months of 2012 show that “we’re out of jail” in consumers’ eyes. He adds, though that “we still have a year and a half of probation.” That may be one reason he didn’t want to touch a question about whether Netflix might raise its price — something that would please investors. “We’re happy at $7.99 [a month] and not speculating about the future,” Hastings says. He’s upbeat about general trends, though. For example consumers’ growing interest in tablets and Internet-connected TVs is “very helpful to us.”
Analysts wanted to know how Hastings squared his eagerness to cut a deal to stream Disney movies with his dismissive comment after late 2011 when Netflix lost Starz — which now has the studio — that Disney only accounted for 2% of streamed viewing. But Hastings didn’t bite, except to say that Netflix is “more and more interested in exclusive content.” He adds that he doesn’t know whether Amazon bid for Disney. Hastings also kept a poker face about his eagerness to land Sony Pictures when its contract with Starz expires. “There’s no specific piece of content we must have,” he says. “It’ll just be a bidding negotiation.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.