Netflix Inc. ended last year with more than 200 million subscribers, a milestone powered by consumers left homebound by the pandemic, eager for entertainment, and rising demand in international markets where the streaming giant has a head start over many rivals.
The company said it is now able to generate more cash than it needs, and no longer anticipates having to borrow money to fuel its growth strategy. Netflix shares were up 12% in after-hours trading.
Netflix’s continued subscriber growth comes amid heightened competition from new streaming services including Walt Disney Co. ’s Disney+, Apple Inc.’s Apple TV+, AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max and Comcast Corp.’s Peacock, all of which weren’t around a little over a year ago.
The company got a boost from the coronavirus pandemic, which forced consumers to cut back on a host of leisure activities—from dining out and vacations to visiting theaters and concert venues—as economies locked down. With many people spending more time at home, streaming demand jumped.
While the majority of television networks continue to be without most of their original content because of production shutdowns due to Covid-19, Netflix’s well-stocked content arsenal lifted it to new heights. Netflix signed up what it said was a record 37 million subscribers in 2020 and had a total of 203.7 million users when the year ended—more than twice as many as it had a mere three years earlier.