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Netflix Subscriptions Surge To 182.9 Million During COVID-19

In the first three months of 2020 Netflix gained 15.8 million paid memberships globally, from 167.1 million paid subscriptions at end-2019 to 182.9 million. This represents a year-on-year increase of 22.8%, driven by millions of people across the globe staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its investor statement, Netflix said: “During the first two months of Q1, our membership growth was similar to the prior two years, including in the United States and Canada. Then, with lockdown orders in many countries starting in March, many more households joined Netflix to enjoy entertainment.”

As a result, the company’s streaming revenue has increased by 28.4% year-on-year to $5.7 billion.

Over Q1 Netflix had notable success with docu-series ‘Tiger King’ (64 million viewers) and ‘Love is Blind’ (30 million), the film ‘Spenser Confidential’ (85 million), and season four of the Spanish show ‘La Casa de Papel’, also known as ‘Money Heist’ (65 million).

Netflix’s Tiger King docu-series

In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of paid memberships reached 19.8 million, representing an increase of 3.6 million. Australia represents a large portion of the region’s subscriptions. In March 2020 Roy Morgan stated that 12.2 million Australians had access to Netflix.

Future increases in subscriptions

Netflix has forecast the number of paid subscriptions to reach a staggering 190.4 million by the end of Q2 2020 and expects revenue to climb alongside this to $6 billion. However, Netflix also stated that given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 movement restrictions “this is mostly guesswork”. The company expects viewing numbers to decline again once the COVID-19 pandemic passes.

Despite the increase in paid memberships being higher than forecasts, Netflix said in its Q1 2020 report that revenue was generally in line with initial expectations, due to paused productions, hardship fund commitments and the appreciation of the US dollar against other currencies.

The declining value of currencies in Netflix’s markets outside of the US have made new subscriptions in these countries less valuable to the company than they were before the COVID-19 crisis.

How Netflix’s original content has been impacted

Looking ahead, Netflix users may notice less new, original Netflix content on their screens. Netflix has been forced to stop filming at all its studios due to COVID-19, aside from Korea and Iceland. In total, Netflix has committed to spending $150 million to supporting the film industry during this time, with this funding distributed across markets.

However, Netflix has assured viewers that it has a large pipeline of content that was either ready for launch or in post-production, so there will still be new shows in the near future at least.

In the next three months Netflix plans to launch the new comedy ‘Space Force’, ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Extraction’. This will follow the recent launch of ‘Too Hot to Handle’ and ‘#BlackAF’.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said: “We’re uncertain as everyone else, the things we’re certain of is the internet is growing, it’s a bigger part of people’s lives, thankfully, and people want entertainment, they want to be able to escape and connect whether times are difficult or joyous.”

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