Netflix Tops Q4 Sub Growth Forecast, Ended 2020 with 203 Million Subs

Netflix ended 2020 pretty much the way it started the record year: with a bang. The SVOD pioneer Jan. 19 reported fourth-quarter subscriber growth of more than 8.5 million, up 42% from a projected 6 million new subs. Netflix ended the year with more than 203 million global subs — 2 million more than projected.

Netflix added 860,000 subs in North America to end the year with almost 74 million in the region — compared with 67 million at the end of 2019. The service added 4.5 million subs in Europe/Middle East to reach 67 million, compared with 52 million in 2019. Latin America added 1.2 million subs to end 2020 with more than  37 million. Asia Pacific added 2 million subs to end the year with more than 25 million, compared with 16 million a year ago.

For the full year, the streamer added a record 37 million paid memberships, achieved $25 billion in annual revenue (up 24% year-over-year) and grew operating profit 76% to $4.6 billion.

“We’re becoming an increasingly global service with 83% of our paid net adds in 2020 coming outside the [North American] region,” Co-CEO’s Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos wrote in a letter to shareholders.

The executives said Europe and the Middle East region accounted for 41% of full-year paid net adds, while Asia Pacific region was the second-largest contributor to paid net additions with 9.3 million (up 65% year over year).

Netflix said George Clooney’s sci-fi drama The Midnight Sky was the most-streamed original movie in the quarter, reaching an estimated 72 million homes since its Dec. 25 launch. The streamer said animated feature Over the Moon was streamed by 43 million homes, while We Can Be Heroes was streamed by 53 million households.

Over the winter holidays, subscribers increasingly streamed Holidate with Emma Roberts, and The Christmas Chronicles 2, with Kurt Russell reprising his Santa role. The movies were streamed by 68 million and 61 million households, respectively. Netflix counts a viewer after two minutes of streaming.

Indeed, Netflix said chess-themed original limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” was streamed by 62 million homes — the biggest limited series debut in the streamer’s history. Netflix said its original series accounted for 90% of the most-searched shows globally in 2020, with original movies representing another 20%.

“In addition to titles with big viewership, we also aspire to have hits that become part of the cultural zeitgeist,” Hastings and Sarandos wrote.


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