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Netflix Shares Surge as Online Viewing Surpasses Estimate

Netflix Shares Surge as Online Viewing Surpasses Estimate
The Netflix Inc. app is displayed for a photograph on a mobile device in New York. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Netflix Inc., owner of the streaming and DVD-by-mail service, jumped as much as 9.3 percent after reporting online viewing that surpassed an analyst’s estimate.

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, rose 7.1 percent to $77.34 at 2:15 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, after reaching $78.97 earlier. The shares dropped 61 percent last year.

Users of the company’s online movie and TV-streaming service watched more than 2 billion hours of content in the last three months of 2011, the company said today in a statement.

The number exceeded the 1.2 billion-hour estimate of Richard Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG Research. Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings in December said fourth-quarter streaming hours would be “well over” 1 billion, according to Greenfield.

“It now appears our interpretation was far too conservative,” Greenfield wrote in a blog post.

He estimates Netflix would be the 15th most-watched U.S. TV network when compared to traditional cable and broadcast channels.

The $7.99-a-month service is eating into traditional television-viewing, Greenfield said.

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