Netflix Blames Trash-Talking Partners For Content Worries, Says Per Member Viewing Up 30 Percent

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In its latest earnings report, Netflix addresses the seemingly constant concerns that it’s losing out on valuable streaming content as its partners start pushing for more money.

For example, the company recently cut about 800 hours of programming from A&E and History, and its deal with Epix is no longer exclusive.

However, Netflix points out that among the top 10 TV shows, six are available only on Netflix, and not Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, or HBO Go. The company also points to two numbers suggesting that customers are still happy with the service — per member viewing is up 30 percent year-over-year, reaching a record high, and voluntary churn, where users cancel the service (versus involuntary churn, where a credit/debit card payment is declined), is “generally the lowest it has ever been.”

Most of the fuss about content deals is usually being stirred up by the content providers, Netflix suggests — after all, they’re hoping to convince Netflix and its competitors to pay more. The company writes:

In general, to maintain a great service and low prices, we have to be choosy about what we are licensing for Netflix. Given the high volume of programming available on Netflix, titles come into and out of license nearly every day. Suppliers, of course, are incentivized to talk about how important their particular offering is to our service, and it can be concerning to investors to read stories of content nonrenewal.

Plus, Netflix will be getting more aggressive with original content next year, with the premiere of David Fincher’s House of Cards scheduled for February, and the revival of Arrested Development coming later in the spring.

The company also offers assessments of each of its three main competitors — again, that’s Amazon, Hulu, and HBO. In discussing Amazon Prime, for example, Netflix says, “The majority of our most popular content is unavailable on Amazon Prime Instant Video. … Our members tell us they’d like more content, not less, so we feel good about our relative content offering.” The company predicts that HBO (which is already launching a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the Nordics), will eventually become more of a director competitor, but it says, “since many consumers in that eventuality would subscribe to both HBO and Netflix, we would compete like any two networks today. Our content is distinct from their content.”