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Netflix adds 8.5 mn paid subs in Q4 to blow past 200 mn mark

The streaming giant said it recorded the biggest year of paid membership growth in its history.

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NEW DELHI: 2020 may have been a disaster for most, but it’s the year Netflix struck gold. The global streaming giant in its Q4 results shared that it has added 8.5 million paid net additions and crossed the 200 million paid memberships mark.

The pandemic and the ensuing stay-at-home orders helped Netflix add nearly 37 million new subscribers in 2020, up 31 per cent from 2019. The streamer also clocked $25 billion in annual revenue with a growth of over 24 per cent y-o-y.

In the earnings report, the streaming platform said it has grown operating profit by 76 per cent to $4.6 billion.

Interestingly,  83 per cent of Netflix’s paid net adds in 2020 came from outside the UCAN region. The EMEA region accounted for 41 per cent of its full year paid net adds, while APAC was the second largest contributor to paid net additions with 9.3 million (up 65 per cent year on year).

For Q1’21, Netflix expects paid net adds of six million versus last Q1’s 15.8 million which included the impact from the initial Covid2019 lockdowns. Since the start of 2018, its paid memberships have risen from 111 million to 204 million and the average revenue per membership has grown from $9.88 to $11.02. This approach has allowed the platform to organically increase revenue by $4-$5 billion annually over the past several years.

Netflix shared that in scripted English language television, season four of the critically acclaimed The Crown was the biggest season so far and drove new watchers to tune in to prior seasons. Its largest original film of the quarter was The Midnight Sky, and the platform

estimates that 72 million member households will choose to watch this title in its first four weeks.

Queen’s Gambit and Bridgerton were both major hits for the platform. Queen’s Gambit, a show about a female chess prodigy who tastes unparalleled success but struggles with addiction, was viewed by 62 million households in its first 28 days on the service, while Shonda Rimes unconventional take on Regency-era romance Bridgerton is on track to reach 63 million accounts. But a newer show, released this month, underscores Netflix’s global reach. Lupin, a French crime series starring Omar Sy, has become the second-biggest debut in the company’s history. It’s on track to be watched by 70 million households in its first 28 days on the service.

Netflix says it’s ready to unleash a flood of new content to its service. "With over 500 titles currently in post-production or preparing to launch on our service and plans to release at least one new original film every week in 2021 with extraordinary talent, we’re confident we’ll continue to have a great content offering for our members," it added.

The streaming giant has been testing a new feature – Shuffle Play – that gives members the ability to choose to instantly watch a title chosen just for them versus browse. The response has been positive and it plans to roll it out globally in the first half of 2021.

The big question is whether Netflix will be able to hold onto its subscribers. In 2021, the company will face even stiffer competition from the likes of Disney+, HBO Now, Peacock, and the soon-to-be-rebranded Paramount+, all of which promise to deliver new TV shows and movies.

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