Here’s a look at Netflix since its stock peaked in July 2011 at nearly $305. Netflix had just announced an unpopular price increase in the U.S., and investors got worried by the intensity of the customer backlash. Even after subscriber complaints subsided, investors remained concerned about intensifying competition at the same time the company is spending more to acquire Internet content and expand abroad. Despite those concerns, Netflix has been staging a comeback. Another boost is expected from Sunday’s revival of the “Arrested Development” TV series.
July 12, 2011: Netflix Inc. says it will raise prices by as much as 60 per cent for millions of subscribers who want to rent DVDs by mail and watch video on the Internet. The company decided to separate the two options so that subscribers who want both must buy separate plans totalling at least $16 per month. Netflix Inc. had been bundling both options in a single package starting at $10 per month.
Sept. 1: The price hike begins to take effect for existing customers. New customers had to pay the higher prices immediately.
Sept. 5: Netflix begins to offer its service in Latin America. Like its counterpart in Canada, the Latin American service is streaming-only, with no options for getting DVDs by mail.
Sept. 18: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings apologizes but keeps price hike in effect. Company creates more anger when it announces plans to split into two services — Netflix for the streaming, and Qwikster for the familiar discs in red envelopes. That means subscribers have to visit two websites to make movie requests and update billing information. Hastings says the two businesses have different cost structures and benefits, and splitting would let each grow independently.
Oct. 10: Netflix backs away from its plan to split its two services, but keeps the price hike.
Oct. 24: The company discloses that it lost 800,000 U.S. subscribers in the July-September quarter, ending with 23.8 million. That loss is more than the 600,000 that Netflix had predicted.
Dec. 6: Hastings appears at an investors’ conference in New York, where he laments the company’s recent mistakes but predicts they will be forgotten as Netflix’s Internet video service continues to reshape the entertainment industry.
Dec. 22: Netflix says Hastings’s stock option awards will be cut by 50 per cent to $1.5 million in 2012. His base salary remains unchanged at $500,000.
Jan. 4, 2012: Netflix delivers its first good news in months, sending its stock up 11 per cent. The company says customers had streamed more than 2 billion hours of video in the fourth quarter.
Jan. 25: Netflix releases figures showing it regained almost as many U.S. customers as it lost following the price hike. It ended December with 24.4 million subscribers in the U.S., a gain of 600,000 from the end of September. It had lost 800,000 the previous summer.
Feb. 6: Verizon Communications Inc. and Coinstar Inc. unveil plans to challenge Netflix with its own streaming service to bundle with DVD rental kiosks operated by Coinstar’s Redbox division. Getting an extensive library of streaming content to rival Netflix’s will be expensive, though. Netflix, meanwhile, debuts its first original TV series, an eight-episode drama called “Lilyhammer,” as it hopes to differentiate itself from rivals.
Feb. 21: As part of an effort to offer more exclusive material, Netflix locks up the right to show “The Artist” and other movies from The Weinstein Co. before the films are released to leading pay-TV channels such as Showtime and HBO. On the same day the multiyear deal is announced, Comcast Corp. announces plans to undercut Netflix with a less expensive version of a service that will stream old TV series and movies to devices with high-speed Internet connections.
April 23: Netflix says it suffered its first quarterly loss in seven years as it dealt with rising licensing fees and the bill for an international expansion. The first-quarter setback, however, was far smaller than analysts expected. In another encouraging sign, the company’s subscriber growth accelerated during the first three months of the year, further evidence that the company is recovering from the price-hike backlash.
July 3: Netflix announces that subscribers watched more than 1 billion hours of online video in June, an indication that streaming video is getting more popular.
July 12: One-year anniversary of price-hike announcement. Subscriber growth has returned, but even after a recent rally, Netflix stock remains more than 70 per cent below its peak price of nearly $305 about a year ago.
Aug. 15: Netflix announces that its international expansion will continue with a rollout in four Nordic countries — Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Service became available in mid-October.
Oct. 31: Activist investor Carl Icahn discloses he has used some of his $14 billion fortune to accumulate a 10 per cent stake in Netflix.
Nov. 5: Netflix moves to protect itself against hostile takeovers by adopting a shareholder rights plan, also known as a poison pill. Such a plan is designed to make it difficult or even impossible for someone to take over the company without an agreement from the board. Netflix says the provision is triggered if a person or group acquires 10 per cent of Netflix, or 20 per cent in the case of institutional investors, in a deal not approved by the board.
Dec. 4: Netflix announces that its video subscription service has trumped pay-TV channels and grabbed the rights to show Disney movies shortly after they finish their runs in theatres. Netflix’s streaming service will have exclusive U.S. rights to offer Disney’s first-run movies during the period normally reserved for premium TV network such as HBO, Starz and Showtime. It will start after Disney’s current deal with Starz ends in 2015.
Jan. 23, 2013: Netflix surprises investors by reporting a fourth-quarter profit as it warded off stiffer competition to add 2 million U.S. subscribers during the final three months of 2012.
Feb. 1: Netflix releases 13 hour-long episodes of the political drama “House of Cards” all at once. Many subscribers binged and watch the entire season continuously. Critics laud the series, which stars Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey.
April 19: Debut of the thriller “Hemlock Grove,” the second original series on Netflix in 2013.
April 22: Netflix announces that it added 2 million U.S. subscribers in the January-March period, hitting the top end of a target set by the company’s management. The success of “House of Cards” is credited.
May 26: Netflix is scheduled to release a new, fourth season of “Arrested Development” in a revival of the series cancelled in 2006. All 15 episodes will be available at once at 12:01 a.m. PDT (3:01 a.m. EDT).