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Netflix Passes HBO in Subscribers! (If You Stop Counting at the Border)

HastingsPhotograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings has long cited HBO as the pay-TV model his company most wants to emulate. It has now achieved one significant milestone (PDF) in that HBO race, reaching 29.9 million paid U.S. subscribers in the third quarter to surpass the premium-cable king by about 1.1 million.

Hastings isn’t popping bubbly just yet: Outside the U.S., HBO has about 114 million subscribers, compared to Netflix’s 9.2 million. What’s more, HBO is profitable worldwide—a far cry from the red ink Netflix generates abroad.