Two-thousand-nine was a bad year for most businesses. Netflix is not one those businesses. The company added 1 million subscribers in the final three months in 2009 and increased revenue by 24 percent over the same quarter a year ago. Netflix ended 2009 with 31 percent more subscribers than it had at the start of the year, leaving it with somewhere between 15.5 million and 16.3 million subscribers in total.
Not surprisingly, Netflix’s amazing year was not matched by Blockbuster. That must mean the red envelope company is doing something better than the blue envelope company, and we think we know what it is. It’s not the wider selection, the faster delivery or the wonders of “Watch Instantly.” Netflix is winning the DVD rental wars because it has the most persistent pop-up ads in the history of the internet.