Analyst: Netflix Might Be Most-Watched 'Cable Network' in the U.S. Today

DOWN: Reed Hastings

Less than a year ago, the Netflix chief's stock was at $285 a share. On July 30, it closed at just $57.75 thanks to slowing domestic growth and the high cost of expanding overseas.

Chief executive Reed Hastings says four billion hours of content were watched in the first quarter.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on his public Facebook page Thursday that subscribers watched four billion hours of content on Netflix in the first quarter, prompting one Wall Street analyst to declare that the new-media company is "now likely the most-watched cable network."

Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research said the Netflix users are watching an average of about 87 minutes of Netflix content per day, per household, "essentially in-line with the Disney Channel." The vast majority of all that watching is done in the U.S.

PHOTOS: 'Arrested Development' Returns: 7 Posters for the New Netflix Episodes

Greenfield guesses that there were about 28 million Netflix streamers in the first quarter. 

Helping Netflix achieve impressive numbers are its original shows like House of Cards and, beginning in May, a new iteration of Arrested Development.

"After failing to live up to subscriber growth expectations in 2012, the question facing investors is whether Netflix's continued ramp in programming investment is paying off," Greenfield wrote. "With streaming per sub per day continuing to tick higher ... we presume churn is continuing to fall -- implying that the price/value of a Netflix subscription is increasing."

Netflix stock rose four percent Thursday to $173.01 and has more than tripled in six months.