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S&P 500 adds Netflix to its queue

Standard & Poor's upgrades Netflix to large-cap index and, in an almost ironic move, has bounced old-media bastion The New York Times Co. down in return.

Financial services company Standard & Poor's announced changes yesterday to its S&P 500 stock market index, a widely respected compendium of large-cap U.S. public companies: Netflix is on the list for the first time. In the same announcement, rather poignantly, S&P announced that newspaper giant The New York Times Co. has been demoted to its index of mid-size companies (the MidCap 400), as has photography equipment manufacturer Eastman Kodak.

Previously, Netflix had been on the MidCap 400 list.

Netflix has had one heck of a year, nearly a decade after it first went public in 2002. The company recently launched a streaming video service in Canada, its first outside the U.S., and continues to sign deals with hardware manufacturers to make its service available on more set-top boxes and video game consoles.

But its listing on the S&P 500 came the same week as the company's chief financial officer announced his resignation, assuring that he would not be doing so unless Netflix were in good hands but generating some mild investor unease about what might be going on as the DVDs-by-mail service gradually shifts strategy to online streaming. Hollywood has begun to regard Netflix's growing power with uncertainty and a bit of suspicion--despite Netflix's historically positive relationships with television and film studios.

And Netflix, or more specifically the amount of bandwidth it uses, is also at the center of a very open and very ugly feud over traffic fees between cable giant Comcast and content delivery network Level 3 Communications.

Netflix's stock was up today in early trading, attracting interest in the wake of its induction into the S&P 500.