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Jul 22, 2013

Netflix opts for low-fi results webcast

Video streaming firm grilled over new approach by moderator

Another week, another live earnings video. Yesterday, Netflix became the second company in just over a week to replace its quarterly call with a live video stream, following in the footsteps of Yahoo! last Tuesday.

The two videos couldn’t have been more different in style, however. While Yahoo! put on a slick, news-bulletin style show featuring CEO Marissa Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman, Netflix’s more basic approach featured three executives sitting in front of webcams on their laptops. ‘I hope the quality is acceptable, and we look forward to any suggestions from you afterwards,’ said CEO Reed Hastings.

Netflix webcast
‘I hope the quality is acceptable’ – Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO

Netflix also mixed up the Q&A format, bringing in Julia Boorstin, CNBC media reporter, and BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield (also on webcams) to ask questions submitted in advance via email and Twitter.

The questions came in from institutional investors, retail investors, sell-side analysts and other companies in the media industry, explained Boorstin, and were consolidated before being posed without attribution.

Julia Boorstin and Rich Greenfield
Julia Boorstin of CNBC and BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield moderated the webcast

Boorstin used the first question to ask Hastings about the new format. ‘There has been a lot of criticism about your decision to format the call this way,’ she said. ‘How do you address concerns it actually minimizes the ability of investors to communicate directly with you?’

‘I think we should process that after the interview. Let’s see whether it’s productive or useful for investors and see what they think,’ Hastings said in a brief response.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Netflix has run into controversy over its IR program. In December, the SEC said it was investigating the firm over a possible disclosure violation following a Facebook blog post by Hastings that contained information on monthly viewing figures.

The SEC later dropped its investigation into Netflix. It also took the opportunity to put out new guidance on how US disclosure rules apply to social media.

The full Netflix Q2 2013 earnings video