(Corrects headline to show CEO comments about subscriber usage, not subscriber numbers)
April 11 (Reuters) - Netflix Inc Chief Executive Reed Hastings quickly took advantage of new federal rules on using social media to disclose information, posting on Facebook Thursday that members of the subscription service watched 4 billion hours of video in the past three months.
“House of Cards fav quote: ‘look at the bigger picture,'” Hastings wrote on his personal Facebook page. “Over the last three months, you all watched over 4 billion hours on Netflix.”
Hastings landed in the crosshairs of federal regulators the last time he mentioned viewing habits on Facebook, revealing in July that monthly streaming hours had crossed 1 billion.
The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an inquiry into whether it was appropriate for a CEO to release potentially market-sensitive data via social media. On April 2, it concluded that companies could make key announcements on social media as long as they told investors which sites they would use.
Netflix alerted investors on Wednesday, through a regulatory filling, that the company might disclose information on Facebook, Twitter or two Netflix blogs.
Shares of Netflix, already up earlier on Thursday, rose about 0.5 percent after Hastings revealed the new viewing numbers.
“It’s a billion more than the last time they said a number,” said Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves, who has an “outperform” rating on the stock. “It’s a lot of hours. It means the average Netflix user is watching an hour and a half a day.”
In late afternoon trading, Netflix shares were trading 4.1 percent higher at $172.85 on Nasdaq. Earlier on Thursday, the company announced a multi-year agreement with toy maker Hasbro for children’s programming. Goldman Sachs also raised its price target on Netflix shares to $184 from $125.
Netflix shares were up 4.2 percent at $173.04 on Nasdaq just before the close of the market.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine