By Steve O'Hear
Good job, Netflix PR: Today the company announced it has hit 1 million subscribers for its video streaming service just seven months after launch in the UK and Ireland. That’s pretty impressive, by any measure, but it’s also somewhat old news. During last month’s Q2 financing results, the company openly talked about its numbers internationally, trumpeting growth in the UK and Ireland in particular, noting that — yes – it has reached the 1M mark.
TechCrunch, of course, reported this milestone at the time, when Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) was also quick to point out that it had “pulled ahead” of its European competitor Amazon-owned LOVEFiLM in “every important streaming-related metric.” Unlike Netflix in the UK and Ireland, LOVEFiLM doesn’t just offer a streaming-only option, but is also playing in the legacy ‘DVD rental by post’ space, hence Netflix’s emphasis on streaming-related metrics.
However, PR wins aside, it’s hard not to be impressed by Netflix’s growth this side of the pond. 1M subscribers is a big number by any measure, especially when you consider how much free content is available through the BBC’s iPlayer television streaming offering, and the muscle of entrenched players like cable operator Virgin Media and BSkyB, which has recently launched its own streaming-only offering.
However, there’s another story here too. Netflix has been advertising very heavily here in the UK, not least on old TV, and at what must not be inconsiderable cost. In fact, the company has talked about its willingness to dip into the red in order to launch in new markets, and it would be interesting to know how much it’s spent on customer acquisition per-subscriber in the UK and Ireland. And, of course, retaining those subscribers is another thing altogether. This is definitely one to watch — no pun intended.