FORTUNE -- One of the most frequent complaints about Netflix (fair or not) is the supposed paucity of titles available for streaming. That complaint is about to get louder and more frequent because about 1,800 titles will be pulled because Netflix's (NFLX) licensing agreements for them are expiring today.
It's being called "The Great Netflix Purge" and "Streamageddon" (sometimes by the same publication). Titles from Warner Bros., MGM, and Universal will vanish from the service today. Netflix is pooh-poohing it, of course, sending out statements to argue that it's all part of the "churn" that Netflix has always been subject to as it lets some licensing deals go while signing new ones. The company told The Verge that the number of titles the streaming service carries isn't all that important anyway. Netflix's mission, the statement said, is not to be a "broad distributor," but rather an "expert programmer."
Part of that expert programming, of course, is the original shows Netflix is producing, like Arrested Development and House of Cards. As for its catalog, the company accurately notes that even as many titles are expiring, new ones are being added. Even today, some 500 new titles are being made available. This "ebb and flow happens all the time," the company said.
But this is more ebb and less flow than usual, one that viewers are much more likely to notice, and complain about.
None of this, though, seems to be stopping the company's momentum. Netflix announced a week ago that it had attracted more than 2 million new domestic subscribers in its first quarter, substantially besting analysts' guesses. Another million were added in foreign markets. Analysts attribute the gains largely to the original programming, particularly House of Cards. A large majority of the people who signed up for a free trial in order to watch that series have -- so far -- stayed with Netflix. The company now boasts 29.2 million U.S. customers. CEO Reed Hastings says his goal is for that number to reach 90 million. And the service does, after all, offer about 75,000 titles to choose from.
The markets don't seem particularly fazed by the "purge," either. Shares are down today -- an off day for the market -- but only by about 1.5%. At their midday price of $212.65, shares are still 30% higher than they were just before the company announced its earnings and subscriber numbers a week ago. Shares have risen by 161% over the past year. It would seem that the company has put its stumbles of a couple of years ago fully behind it.
Apple looks like a pretty big fish in the video on demand business -- if you ignore Netflix
If all you saw was the pie chart at right, produced from data issued Monday by iSuppli, you might think that Apple (AAPL) had succeeded in doing to digital video what it did to digital music.
According to iSuppli, now a unit of IHS (IHS), iTunes' share of U.S. consumer spending for movie MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 23, 2011 1:43 PM ET
Despite fierce competition, iTunes commanded a 64% share of the (legal) market in 2010
The online movie market may be Apple's (AAPL) to lose, but it hasn't lost it yet.
According to an IHS Screen Digest report issued Monday by iSuppli, the iTunes Store's share of the U.S. market for downloaded movies (see below re streaming) fell nearly 10 points last year, from 74.4% in 2009 to 64.5% in 2010.
But as IHS MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 7, 2011 3:08 PM ET
As cable companies take on Netflix and Hulu with TV Everywhere, they'd do well to remember that where video content is concerned, a polished interface is part of the package, and the main area where they've been beat.
At a time when more than 21 million people now regularly stream film or television content from services like Netflix Instant and Hulu, cable companies still think they have the consumer by the eyeballs, MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Oct 14, 2010 3:29 PM ET
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