He has created a huge entertainment network without a single broadcast license or cable channel. He has successfully made the transition from a service delivered by postmen to one delivered via the Internet.
At its expected opening valuation this morning of $23.3 billion, based on an after-hours rise of 17% in the stock price, Netflix is now worth more than 13 times the $1.7 billion value Wunderlich Securities put on Disney's (DIS) ABC Network back in 2012. At the same time, ABC's ESPN sports networks were said to be worth $40 billion.
The lesson of Netflix and ESPN is that we're living in a new media world where the volume of programming you can deliver determines network value, and that volume is no longer limited to the bandwidth of a TV channel.
Netflix delivers more programming than anyone else. That sounds simple, but delivering on that promise took some major technological feats, such as building Netflix access directly into TVs and finding ways to get Netflix content closer to subscribers.
What looks like a programming advantage is, in fact, a technological one.
That's why Hastings could call HBO his "bitch," as he reportedly did during yesterday's conference call, after the company announced fourth-quarter net income of $48 million on revenue of $1.18 billion and said it added 4.17 million members during the quarter, bringing its total subscriber count to more than 44 million.