Forget What You've Heard: Reed Hastings Is Still a Recluse

Netflix chief Reed Hastings isn't doing enough to take advantage of social media.

Sound crazy? Yes, I know the SEC has accused him of oversharing only to back off later. That some companies are now posting material disclosures to Facebook and Twitter, turning the 140-character news network into a sort of carnival freak show, is undeniably Hastings' fault.

Yet neither Facebook nor Twitter is useful when it comes to social discovery of interesting televised content. At least not the way Netflix handles it.

The author's social settings. Source:

See the problem? My best chance of knowing what my friends are into is to be tuned into Facebook at the precise moment they're watching something. Good news for digital stalkers, I suppose. Not so much for me and, I suspect, most investors.

Enter GetGlue, a specialized social network for TV and movie watchers. Whereas LinkedIn Today aims to provide members with intelligence about the most relevant trends and topics in their fields of expertise, GetGlue offers a customizable view of the entire televised zeitgeist.

For example, GetGlue keeps track of shows that are "trending" at certain times. Think of it as a looking glass into ratings but with the added benefit of including on-demand content. Sunday night, Arrested Development ranked sixth despite being available only on-demand. The Bluths even outdueled the formidable Starks and Lannisters of HBO's Game of Thrones.

Isn't this precisely the sort of information Netflix needs? Hastings and his team use data to achieve a deep understanding of viewer wants and desires, which, in turn, informs how the company bids for existing shows and prices originals.

Importantly, GetGlue shouldn't be too expensive to acquire. Last November, competitor Viggle successfully bid $85 million for the start-up, only to see the founders pull out of the deal in January. Fortunate, since Netflix would be the better partner -- and with $325 million more cash than debt and a smoking-hot stock price, also able to pay a little more.

You've been a recluse for too long, Mr. Hastings. Time for Netflix to join the social media mixer. Do you agree? Let us know what you think of GetGlue and the future of TV in the comments box below.

A toe in the stream
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Netflix at the time of publication. He was also long January 2014 $50 Netflix call options. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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