Netflix Wins International Crown With Original Shows

courtesy: http://www.reuters.com/

Twenty years after Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), and a decade after the company introduced video streaming, it hit another milestone – one that is key to its ability to sustain its scorching pace of growth.

International subscriber count increased 8.6 percent to 52.03 million at the end of the June quarter, eclipsing domestic customer numbers of 51.92 million, Netflix said on Monday.

The company’s shares jumped as much as 9.7 percent to a record high of $177.44 on Tuesday, on track to add roughly $7 billion to Netflix’s $70 billion market value.

Betting on original shows puts Netflix in pole position to win over more millennials who are shunning traditional television, analysts said.

Netflix has a new-found ally as well: pay-TV platforms.

Several companies such as Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), Virgin Media in the UK, and Altice in France are bundling Netflix into their pay-TV offerings, which could rapidly ramp up viewer numbers in younger markets, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote.

At least 17 brokerages raised their price targets on Netflix. Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan were the most bullish, each raising their target to $210.

The median price target is $192.50.

“We believe the rapidly growing content offering led by originals, that in aggregate garnered 91 Emmy nominations last week, drove the stronger new sign-ups,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a research note.

This year, original TV shows including “Stranger Things”, “The Crown” and the latest season of Kevin Spacey-starred “House of Cards” brought in more customers than Netflix had predicted for the second quarter.

Netflix has a long way to go to get more content to please more members, Hastings said on a conference call on Monday, adding that positive returns made him comfortable that the company should continue to invest in original shows.

The company has often been criticized for spending too much on content. It said earlier it planned to spend about $6 billion this year for original shows and expected to have negative free cash flow of $2 billion to $2.5 billion.

While most analysts backed the company’s strategy favoring scale over profit, a few disagreed.

NBC, Netflix Cancel Bill Cosby’s Shows After Sexual Assault Claims

Bill CosbyNBC said on Wednesday it has canceled an upcoming project with veteran comedian, Bill Cosby, his second show to be pulled after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced in recent weeks.

The move by NBC comes a day after online streaming company Netflix Inc. said that it was postponing Cosby’s stand-up comedy special “Bill Cosby 77,” which was due to be released on November 28.

Cosby’s lawyers have called the allegations of sexual assault “discredited” and “defamatory.”

Cosby’s representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the NBC and Netflix cancellations.

The damage to Cosby’s career reached the reruns of “The Cosby Show,” a top-rate NBC comedy in which he played his most famous role as the affable patriarch, Dr. Cliff Huxtable. A spokeswoman for Viacom Inc’s basic cable channel TV Land said that the show is being pulled from its schedule, without commenting further.

The 77-year-old Cosby is fighting to protect one of the most storied careers in stand-up comedy and television. He is scheduled to go ahead with a performance on Friday at a sold-out show in Florida, the King Center for the Performing Arts said on its website on Wednesday.

Comcast Corp-owned NBC said in a statement that “the Cosby project is no longer in development,” while declining to comment further. The project was still in its early stages, with no script delivered and no production date secured.

Allegations that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted several young women decades ago gained renewed attention after comedian, Hannibal Buress, called him a rapist during a stand-up comedy routine last month.

Neither NBC nor Netflix referred to the accusations in their statements.

In a previously unaired Associated Press television interview released on Wednesday, Cosby declined to comment about Buress’ allegations. It was the first time the comedian has had any response to questions other than silence.

“I don’t talk about it,” he said in the November 6 interview, flanked by his wife, Camille.

After the interview and while cameras were still rolling, Cosby asked that his response not be used. “I would appreciate it if it was scuttled,” he said.

Late Tuesday, model, Janice Dickinson, became the most high-profile accuser against Cosby, telling Entertainment Tonight she believed she had been sexually assaulted by Cosby in 1982.

In a letter received by Reuters, Cosby’s lawyer, Martin Singer, called Dickinson’s claims “fabricated” and “an outrageous defamatory lie.”

Representatives for Dickinson did not respond to a request for comment. CBS said Dickinson would appear on the show on Wednesday to address Cosby’s lawyers.

COSBY MEME BACKFIRES

Cosby’s camp unwittingly intensified the scandal on Twitter last week by asking the comedian’s followers to create viral memes about him, and were instead barraged with memes about the rape accusations.

One of Cosby’s accusers, former aspiring actress, Barbara Bowman, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed this month that Cosby had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions in 1985 when she was 17. She said she never went to the police because she feared she would not be believed.

Cosby has never been charged with the alleged crimes.

“The Cosby Show” was a top-ranked show for NBC from 1984 to 1992 and is credited with accelerating racial tolerance and even helping to pave the way for a black U.S. president.