Netflix keeps growing in pandemic, tops 200m subscribers

Netflix keeps growing in pandemic, tops 200m subscribers

Netflix topped on Tuesday subscriber growth expectations in the past quarter, keeping ahead of new streaming rivals competing for viewers stuck in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The streaming television leader added some 8.5 million paid
subscribers in the past quarter to reach 203 million, topping 200 million
despite recent price hikes, its quarterly earning update showed.

“Covid-19 has accelerated that big shift from linear to
streaming entertainment,” Netflix chief financial officer Spencer
Neumann said on an earnings call.

“So, the underlying long-term looks good.”

The company’s cash flow was so strong that it will no longer
borrow money to pay for operations, and is considering starting to buy back
shares, according to a letter to investors.

Netflix shares jumped more than 12 percent in after-market
trades following the release.

Profits dipped to $542 million in the fourth quarter,
compared with $587 million in the same period in 2019. But overall revenue in
the quarter surged 21.5 percent to $6.6 billion.

For the full year, Netflix added a record 37 million
paid memberships, according to the earnings report.

“We’re enormously grateful that in these uniquely
challenging times we’ve been able to provide our members around the world with
a source of escape, connection and joy while continuing to build our
business,” Netflix said in a letter to investors.

Paid membership increased 23 percent in the final quarter of
2020 when compared with the same period a year earlier, but average revenue per
membership was flat, according to the Silicon Valley-based company.

While Netflix raised rates slightly in the US
late last year, the majority — some 83 percent — of its new subscribers were
from outside North America, the earnings report indicated.

Films to launch

Netflix has invested heavily in original shows and films to
make itself a must-have service in the increasingly competitive streaming

“It’s super impressive what Disney has
done,” Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said on the call.

“It is going to be great for the world that Disney
and Netflix are
competing show by show, movie by movie.”

While Apple, Comcast, Disney and others have fielded
streaming services, Netflix thus far “has been a clear winner,”
according to eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom.

Netflix executives said their productions are back up and
running in most regions after being derailed by the pandemic.

Netflix boasted having more than 500 titles in
post-production or being readied for release on the service, with the plan
being to launch at least one new original film weekly.

Already the master of the pandemic-era movie
landscape, Netflix last week offered a preview of upcoming 2021
releases, a list with no fewer than 70 star-studded feature films. 

From drama, comedy and science fiction to horror and even
Westerns, the slate will take in every major film genre before the year is out,
with some releases poised as potential competition for major awards. 

Among the most-anticipated titles is Don’t Look Up from filmmaker Adam McKay of The Big Short and Vice
fame and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Harder They Fall, a Western co-produced by Jay-Z and with a primarily Black cast including Regina King and Idris Elba, also promises to be one to look out for.  

The announcement—via a brochure on the streamer’s website—was
accompanied by a short video presented by Wonder
star Gal Gadot, Jumanji
lead Dwayne Johnson and Deadpool actor
Ryan Reynolds. 

Johnson, Gadot and Reynolds will appear in Red Notice, an action film with a $160
million budget, according to US media.

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