Netflix is poised to overtake pay-per-view rival HBO in terms of the number of paid US subscribers in a sign that CEO Reed Hastings is making progress toward a goal of transforming the streaming service to a web-based TV network.
Netflix's third-quarter results will be known today. Analysts project profits rose to 63 cents a share from 13 cents a year earlier, on sales that grew by 21pc to $1.1bn (€800m).
The company probably reached 30-plus million paying US customers as of September 30, according to Needham & Co. HBO has about 28.7 million.
Hastings has been able to get viewers hooked on Netflix with the Emmy-winning original series 'House of Cards' and a library of films and TV shows.
To fuel more growth, Netflix is looking to bring its web-based service to cable TV systems. Cable providers are starting to see the $8-a-month subscription as an asset, and some are working to integrate Netflix with traditional programming.
"Consumers are probably going to see Netflix as being more valuable than other networks," said Tony Wible, an analyst at Janney Capital Markets in Philadelphia. The monthly price "makes it very difficult for others to be in the business".
Netflix is in talks with US cable providers including Cox Communications Inc, Suddenlink Communications, RCN Telecom Services and Atlantic Broadband Finance LLC.
Netflix's US subscribers most likely reached 31 million in the third quarter, the average of eight analysts' estimates. That is an increase of about 4pc from 29.8 million as of June 30. Paid users were 28.6 million in the second quarter.
'House of Cards', 'Orange Is the New Black' and other original productions are integral to Netflix's strategy of moving from re-runs to a mix of Hollywood movies and new shows.
Netflix rose 1pc to a record $333.50 on October 18. The shares have more than tripled this year, the biggest gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 behind Best Buy Co.