One of the big stories for DVD and streaming-movie subscription service Netflix has been its tremendous growth over the last year. According to its recent earnings report, the company added 7.7 million subscribers in 2010, more than doubling the 2.9 million it added in 2009.
Today, the company announced on its technical blog that it would begin redesigning its API - the software interface that allows your XBox, Google TV or Roku to stream content and apps like Instant Watcher to pull content from Netflix's catalog - and shared some interesting stats regarding its use over the past year.
According to Netflix director of engineering Daniel Jacobson, "the transformational moment for the API was when we started to use it to deliver the streaming functionality to Netflix ready devices."
Jacobson writes that the API grew by "about 37x in 13 months". Even more noticeably, API requests more than quadrupled over the last four months, with 4 billion requests in October turning into 20 billion requests in January.
What do these numbers reflect? According to the blog, part of the growth seen in API requests comes from at least one terribly inefficient device.
"One of our device implementations accounts for about 50% of the total API calls," writes Jacobson. "That same device, however, is responsible for significantly less streaming traffic."
Is that what happened in October? Or is Netflix's increasing emphasis on streaming showing up in the API numbers as well? We do know that Netflix started its streaming program in Canada around this time, as well as its program in the U.S. - is that enough to cause API requests to quadruple in such a short period?
The company did say that it added 3.1 million subscribers in Q4 of 2010 alone. If the switchover to streaming-only subscribers is showing up in the API request numbers, then an API redesign is certainly the next step before making the plunge overseas.