Netflix Gets Big Subscriber Boost

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Online DVD rental company Netflix Inc. ended the 2003 fourth quarter with 1.48 million subscribers, up 74 percent from the year-ago period and 15 percent higher than the 2003 third quarter.


The Los Gatos, CA, firm also ended the year as one of the most successful online companies on the Nasdaq. As of Friday, its share crossed $56, up fivefold since January 2003.


For fourth-quarter 2003, Netflix reported that 95 percent of subscribers paid a monthly fee that varied by the plan selected. The rest were trial subscribers. Paying subscribers accounted for 93 percent of Netflix customers at the end of fourth-quarter 2002 and 96 percent in third-quarter 2003.


Household penetration increased as well.


In the San Francisco Bay area, 5.9 percent of households were Netflix customers at the end of the fourth quarter, up from 3.8 percent in the year-ago period and 5.4 percent in third-quarter 2003.


Penetration in the other markets served nationwide rose to 1.3 percent, from 0.73 percent at the end of fourth-quarter 2002 and 1.1 percent from third-quarter 2003.


The growth of DVD players may contribute to Netflix's soaring growth. Market researcher NPD Group estimates that 63 percent of U.S. households owned a standalone DVD player at the end of November.


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