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Netflix Hits 23.6 Million Total Subscribers

Netflix racked up about 3.6 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2011 to stand at 23.6 million -- and in the U.S. now has as many video customers as Comcast -- but the company insists it's no threat to traditional pay-TV providers.

Netflix is a far cheaper product and earns much less per subscriber than Comcast or cable and satellite TV distributors. Netflix executives Monday reiterated their position that its service offering is "a supplemental channel" to traditional pay-TV providers.

"While Netflix is likely to show huge growth again this year, we think MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] cord cutting will be minimal to nonexistent," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and chief financial officer David Wells wrote in a letter to shareholders outlining the results. "We hear some stories from customers who have Netflix and no MVPD service, but these are generally people who rely on free broadcast TV (which is now in HD) and supplement with Netflix, rather than switching from MVPD to online."

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