The pay-TV service is piling up record debts even as its subscriber base booms. How long can it satisfy its investors or customers eager appetite for shows?
Students of boom, bust and bubbles might like to keep a wary eye on Netflix, which the LA Times now describes as bleeding cash and $20.5bn in the red. The last quarter was a record negative $608m piled on the debt mountain and Netflix insouciantly forecasts negative free cash flow for years to come.
Does it matter? Not, in Wall Street wisdom, while the streaming service builds ever more subscribers, now 104million and rising. But what, pray, happens if subscriptions stall? If the going gets tougher as new streams flow?
Just raise your eyes and look for a few small signs. Amazon, a prime competitor, has just outbid Sky to stream the ATP top mens tennis circuit. The BBC, for heavens sake, has outbid Sky for the PGA golf tournament. Sky and BT have some heavy duty slogging and paying to do as football returns.
The content race is getting tighter. Big spenders who didnt have to worry five years ago are gritting their teeth, and binge viewers (in the latest Ofcom report) are consuming series six episodes at a time. Im forever blowing bubbles? Well, good luck with that.