Netflix on Monday announced a huge milestone: the company’s total U.S. subscribers has officially surpassed HBO’s. The company reported its quarterly results after hours today, revealing that it now has nearly 30 million subscribers (29.93 million to be exact) in the United States, which just edged out HBO’s 28.7 million. Maybe there’s hope HBO will one day rethink its cable exclusivity and consider an à la carte option.
The difference in subscribers isn’t all that significant, but the rise of Netflix’s popularity is, especially when pitted against the darling network of cable providers everywhere, and one of its biggest competitors. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has always maintained that HBO is one of Netflix’s biggest targets, but the premium cable network might not be competition for long. Counting worldwide subscribers—9.19 million—and trial subscribers, Netflix easily tops 40 million customers total. Since HBO is only offered in addition to a cable subscription, Netflix clearly has the upper hand.
Recently, Netflix’s original series House of Cards won a handful of Emmy awards, demonstrating that the streaming service’s original content can be competitive against more traditional shows; the company also said its newest show, Orange is the New Black, will end as its most watch original series ever. That might be why Netflix is working to get itself on cable-TV systems, working with Cox, Suddenlink and RCN, though a deal hasn’t yet gone through. Bloomberg claims that cable providers are actually beginning to see Netflix has an asset more than a competitor.
Netflix has additional original content planned for next year, so there’s definitely potential for future growth. At just $8-per-month for streaming-only service, the Los Gatos, California service is becoming hugely popular and increasingly competitive. For the value, there’s nothing better, which is why Netflix is currently the world’s largest subscription-video service. If the company continues on its current path, it won’t be long until Netflix is transformed into Reed Hastings’s ultimate vision, which is to become a viable Web-based television network.