Netflix Usage Rebounds After Olympics Stumble

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NBCUniversal has posted unexpectedly strong ratings for the London Olympic Games, and Netflix last week warned investors that the Olympics coverage is expected to have a “negative impact” on its business (see Netflix Cites Olympics As Hurting Q3 Sub Growth, Viewing, 2012 Olympics: Lazarus Says NBCU Surprised by Ratings Performance and 2012 Olympics: NBC’s Ratings Juggernaut Extends to a Sixth Night).

So, aha!

Here’s the smoking gun, or so bloggers thought: Netflix suffered a 25% drop-off in streaming in the U.S. on Sunday, July 29, compared with “normal levels,” according to data from North American cable and DSL providers aggregated by bandwidth-management technology vendor Procera Networks.

But that seems to have been just a blip, Procera’s Cam Cullen wrote in an update Thursday.

From Monday through Thursday, “Netflix quickly returned to normal levels, with subscriber counts and traffic volume consistent with other summer weekdays,” he wrote. “Sunday seems to have been a day where consumers not only watched the Olympic broadcasts, but also tested [NBCU’s] streaming capabilities, at least across the Procera network footprint.”

The percentage of broadband subscribers consuming the Olympics streaming from NBC “seems to be holding steady at ~2%,” Cullen added. He said it’s unlikely Netflix will have a drop-off during the second weekend.

Sure, Netflix has some Olympics-related content: You can rent the DVDs of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, or of course the 1998 Olympic Hockey Highlights (also DVD-only).

Oh, you wanted instant streaming? Your best bet: Miracle on Ice, the made-for-TV story about the U.S. hockey team’s 1980 win against the Soviets.

Meanwhile, Netflix streaming subs are less thrilled with the service these days, according to research firm TDG.

In mid-2011, 68% of Netflix streaming customers were “highly satisfied” — now 48% say they are. Those who are “highly dissatisfied” increased from 1% a year ago to 2.7% in mid-2012, according to TDG.

The firm chalks up the drop in highly satisfied customers to Netflix’s pricing changes last fall; Netflix execs have said they expect “full brand recovery” from the marketing fiasco to take three years.


Programming Note:TV’s Cloud Power, exploring how operators and media companies are tapping into cloud-based technologies, is set for Thursday, Sept. 13, at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel. Scheduled speakers include IBM’s Bob Fox, PwC’s Gordon Castle, Verizon’s Maitreyi Krishnaswamy, ABC News’ Doug Vance, Hearst Television’s Mike Rosellini and Current Analysis’ Ron Westfall. See for more info.