Netflix: It Feels Like the First Time

During the Netflix (NFLX) recession-busting fourth-quarter earnings call last week, CEO Reed Hastings noted that "millions" of the company's subscribers are using its Watch Instantly streaming service. The service, which began a year ago but kicked into high gear last fall with new content, partnerships, and roll-outs on multiple devices, is having a notable impact on Netflix's business, according to Hastings, spawning a "substitution effect" in which subscribers are renting fewer DVDs. But changes aren't only being made to Netflix's business model—its very relationship with subscribers is evolving, and presenting new opportunities.

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