Earnings Call: Netflix CEO Hastings: 'We're Not Immune To The Recession After All'

This story was written by David Kaplan.
[In progress] Looking at how the recession will impact Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) Reed Hastings, Netflix's chairman and CEO, opened the companies earnings call by ticking off all the various deals that it hopes will insulate the company from a drastic slide in growth. He touched on the Roku movie player to deals with content from Starz and Disney (NYSE: DIS) Channel, as well as increased investment in steaming video rentals. In particular, Netflix is prepping an update of the "laptop-oriented viewing service" for Windows and Intel-based macs later this year. But given the pullback in consumer confidence, Hastings said that his July stance that the company would be immune to an economic downturn has been reversed, but his view is not completely dark. Hastings: "The recession means continued subscriber growth, but at a much slower rate. Q4 will be between 60 percent below what it was a year ago, to 6 percent above on the high end. The company also expects a small boost to revenues from subscribers who elect to choose Blu-Ray discs that adds a $1 surcharge to their membership.

-- On Display and subscriber growth: Hastings: No softening of display ad rates yet. But hoping that lower prices will ease the company's financial burdens. Another analyst, pointing to retailers like eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) seeing a drop-off in business, Hastings said the company's growth is trending 30 percent below, a significant slowdown.

-- Online vs. DVD: Growing adoption of Watch Instantly online feature. There is no easy way tell whether people watching online is leading those customers to reduce their DVD rentals. "The kind of person who is more likely to watch online is a different kind of person from those who prefer physical rentals. But it's hard to tell." More to come

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By David Kaplan