As tens of millions of Americans hunker down for the blizzard that's taking aim at the East Coast, many will camp in front of the TV, catching up on movies they've missed and checking out new series they've long to watch but just haven't had the time to enjoy.
It's the kind of weather event that's likely to keep Netflix's servers humming all weekend long (if not longer) as fans of streaming video settle in with their remotes in-hand. While many of those viewers are likely already Netflix subscribers, plenty of others will sign up and scope out what's supposedly so special about "House of Cards," "Orange is the New Black" or any of the dozens of other original programs.
It could be just the thing to help Netflix shore up its flagging stock price. After a stellar 2015, which saw Netflix shares rise 134 percent, the stock has fallen 9.7 percent for the year (as of Thursday afternoon), slightly more than the broader market, to about $102.50 a share.
But the company's fourth-quarter results, released Tuesday, have some investors pressing the pause button. Though results topped Wall Street forecasts, some analysts see a saturated U.S. market, and a costly and potentially less lucrative Netflix push into international markets as impediments to growth.
The Los Gatos, California-based company leads the U.S. market in streaming, but faces competition from Amazon, Hulu and others. Netflix currently has about 75 million subscribers in the U.S. and expects to add 1.75 million new customers in the current quarter.
In a research note Wednesday, Wedbush Securities said Netflix shares are substantially overvalued. Citing concern about "slowing domestic growth coupled with decreasing international profitability," Wedbush said Netflix shares are more aptly priced at about $45 a share -- up from the firm's previous estimate of $40 a share, while maintaining its "underperform" rating.
Others are more sanguine. Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson raised his price target to $122 from $119, following Netflix's Q4 results. Speaking on CNBC, Olson said Netflix still has "a lot of room to grow" in the U.S., but international markets remain a huge question mark. "They don't have a brand there yet, they don't have content at this point, so there's a lot of spend that has to happen," he said.
Still, the company has more than 30 million subscribers internationally and its content can be viewed in 130 countries. But it's yet to make inroads into China and faces growing competition from other streaming-video suppliers, many of which view Netflix as impeding on their own territory.
Netflix so far can only market a slim library in many new markets compared to its offerings in the U.S., so it's upped the ante by prioritizing gaining exclusive global content rights and seeking to maintain those rights for a decade after the last original episodes air.
In response, media companies in Europe and elsewhere are banding together to buy television and streaming-on-demand rights to programs in a single bundled deal, effectively cutting out Netflix from their territories.
Netflix remains in a strong position, but increasingly fierce competition both domestically and internationally threaten to impede the company's ambitious expansion. A storm is a coming -- and it won't likely blow over anytime soon.