I speak English as a second language, and I ran into something this week that I couldn't explain, even though I could understand its meaning. While reading an artcle entitled "More people now subscribe to Netflix than cable TV in the US" I read the following sentences along it:

"(...) the number of US Netflix subscribers overtook the number (...)"

"(...) Netflix's gain isn't necessarily cable's loss"

"(...) Netflix's milestone is yet another sign (...)"

My question is: Why is there no genitive case for "Netflix subscribers", but the other two examples make use of it?

Does the noun "Netflix" work as an adjective for the noun "subscribers"? If so, why doesn't it apply to the other two examples?

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    There's no genitive suffix on the noun phrase subscribers in the first sentence because that noun phrase is the object of the preposition of, which means the same (more or less) as the genitive, and is rarely used together with it (except in idioms like a friend of Bill's). Incidentally, note that the genitive of Netflix, which comes from a plural flicks, is Netflix's, with an apostrophe-S suffix instead of just an apostrophe like a plural would get. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 23:32
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    @JohnLawler I think the question has more to do with when do we use Walmart's customers and when do we use Walmart customers. It comes down to where the focus lies. Target is stealing Walmart's customers. Sears customers are more loyal than Gap customers. I have avoided JCPenney, which is still widely called Penney's, and Macy's, and Tiffany's, which are notoriously awkward.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 0:21
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    It's not a simple matter. Target is stealing Walmart('s) customers (either is OK), but *Target is stealing Walmart thunder (the idiom requires genitive). The Business Genitive (I grew up with Kroger's, A & P's, even Piggly Wiggly's) can be applied to any proper name associated with a business, especially a large-scale retail business (like Field's, Macy's, or Gimbel's) so that it's frequently on people's lips. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


Actually, I would have said that in the first sentence, "Netflix" operates as a noun modifying the word "subscriber," just as it does in the phrase "Netflix subscription." Note phrases like "magazine subscribers," "television viewers," and "radio listeners" which would never have the first word in possessive form.

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