Netflix Tops 200 Million Subscribers for the First Time -- Update
By Micah Maidenberg and Joe Flint
Netflix Inc. ended last year with more than 200 million
subscribers, a milestone powered by consumers left homebound by the
coronavirus pandemic and rising demand in international markets
where the streaming giant has a head start over many rivals.
Netflix on Tuesday said it added more than 8.5 million
subscribers on a net basis in the fourth quarter, a gain that
surpassed its forecast for the period. Overall, Netflix signed up
what it said was a record 37 million subscribers in 2020 and had a
total of 203.7 million users when the year finished up.
The company's subscriber count has roughly doubled since the
third quarter of 2017, when it first exceeded 100 million paying
The pandemic has charged Netflix's growth as consumer cut back
on a range of leisure activities -- from dining out and vacations
to visiting theaters and concert venues -- to comply with lockdown
orders and limit the risk of infection. With many people spending
more time at home, streaming demand jumped, bolstering Netflix as
well as its competitors.
The Los Gatos, Calif., company said it generated $6.64 billion
in fourth-quarter revenue, up from $5.45 billion for the year
earlier and exceeding analysts' forecasts. But profit decreased to
$542 million, or $1.19 a share, from $587 million, or $1.30 a
share, the year earlier. Analysts predicted $1.36 a share for the
latest period, according to FactSet.
Netflix shares rose 11.3% in after-hours trading Tuesday. The
stock is up more than 48% in the last 12 months.
The streaming giant's strong performers in the quarter included
the racy historical drama "Bridgerton," the miniseries "The Queen's
Gambit," a new season of "The Crown" and the George Clooney movie
While Covid-19 continues to restrict movie and television
productions, Netflix said it currently has more than 500 titles in
postproduction or ready to launch. Last week, the company unveiled
a movie slate that will see a new release on its platform every
week of 2021.
The bulk of the company's growth in 2020 occurred in the first
two quarters, as Covid-19 and efforts to stop its spread
transformed daily life in countries around the world. Subscriber
gains fell, meanwhile, year over year in the latest period, a
decline the company had said it expected.
Netflix also said it believes it no longer needs to raise debt
going forward for day-to-day operations. The company currently
anticipates 2021 cash flow at break-even, an upgrade from its
earlier projection, which was minus $1 billion to break-even.
The company said it intends to maintain $10 billion to $15
billion in gross debt. Netflix is also considering a stock buyback
program to return cash to shareholders. The company previously
repurchased shares from 2007 to 2011, it said in a shareholder
Write to Micah Maidenberg at email@example.com and Joe
Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 19, 2021 16:44 ET (21:44 GMT)
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