Thursday, March 4, 2021
Tech

Netflix: Bridgerton and The Crown help streaming service top 200m subscribers as lockdowns spur record growth | Business News

Rege-Jean Page (L) and Phoebe Dynevor as Simon Basset and Daphne Bridgerton. Pic: Netflix
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Netflix has notched up more than 200 million subscribers after consumers staying at home during the pandemic helped it achieve a record year of growth in 2020.

The US company, which pioneered streaming in 2007, said it added a better-than-expected 8.5 million new paying customers in the final quarter of the year to reach a total 203.7 million.

For the year as a whole, Netflix added 37 million subscribers, including 15.8 million in the first quarter alone, while revenues rose 24% to $25bn and profits climbed 48% to $2.76bn.

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The latest series of The Crown was shown in 2020. Pic: Netflix

It was helped by the success of new dramas such as The Queen’s Gambit and Bridgerton, as well as the latest series of The Crown.

Netflix said that in an “incredibly difficult year” it had been “able to provide our members around the world with a source of escape, connection and joy while continuing to build our business”.

Most of the growth – 83% of new customers – came from outside its biggest market of the US and Canada. A further six million are projected to sign up in the current first quarter.

Shares rose nearly 13% in after-hours trading as the company projected that it will no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its big-budget films and TV series, and said it would explore returning cash to shareholders.

Netflix faces stiff competition from the likes of Disney – whose Disney+ service managed to sign up 87 million subscribers in just under a year.

Meanwhile, Hollywood studio Warner Bros has departed from Hollywood convention by announcing that it would send all 2021 films straight to HBO Max alongside cinemas.

Netflix co-chief executive Reed Hastings described Disney’s performance as “super-impressive”, adding that its success “gets us fired up about increasing our membership, increasing our content budget”.



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