Jan 19, 2021 - Economy

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

An illustration of Netflix flexing its muscles.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

  • The company experienced explosive growth during the first half of last year, but growth began to slow toward the second half of the year, after pandemic-related lockdowns lifted in the third quarter.
  • Netflix beat expectations on earnings and revenue, in addition to global subscriber additions, for the fourth quarter.
  • Stock was up nearly 6% in after-hours trading Tuesday after the tech giant reported its earnings.

Details: The company says it believes it's "very close to being sustainably" free cash flow positive and anticipates free cash flow will break even for the full year in 2021. This means it will likely no longer need to raise external financing for its day-to-day operations.

  • Netflix has been cash-flow positive for the last three quarters. This is mostly because the pandemic lightened some of the streamer's production and marketing expenses, but it's an important milestone for the company nonetheless.

By the numbers, per CNBC:

  • Earnings per share: $1.19 vs. $1.39 expected, according to Refinitiv survey of analysts.
  • Revenue: $6.64 billion vs. $6.626 billion expected, according to Refinitiv.
  • Global paid net subscriber additions: 8.5 million vs. 6.47 million expected, according to StreetAccount.

What's next: While the pandemic has stalled most of Hollywood's production schedule, Netflix seems on track to be able to deliver its programming slate in full.

  • The company released a teaser of its 2021 film slate last week, promising a new film debut every week.

Go deeper ... Netflix's earnings over the past year:

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