Netflix, Which Now Has 148.9 Million Subscribers, Is ‘Excited’ to Compete With Apple and Disney

Chief content officer Ted Sarandos will also run marketing for the streaming service

Triple Frontier, starring Ben Affleck, was watched by more than 52 million households in its first four weeks on Netflix.
Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

Shortly after two of its soon-to-be-streaming competitors, Disney and Apple, revealed more details of their upcoming OTT offerings, Netflix continued to build on its already gargantuan subscriber lead.

The streaming company now has 148.9 million subscribers worldwide, a 9.6 million increase over the 139.3 million it reported last quarter, it said today in a shareholders letter. Its domestic tally is now 60.3 million, up from 58.5 million last quarter.

Netflix also discussed the recent events from Disney and Apple, during which each company discussed its upcoming streaming services. Both will be released later this year.

“Both companies are world-class consumer brands, and we’re excited to compete,” the letter said. “The clear beneficiaries will be content creators and consumers who will reap the rewards of many companies vying to provide a great video experience for audiences.”

In a video interview for investors, CEO Reed Hastings said of Disney and Apple, “great competition makes you better,” adding, “just to be in the same league as them is very exciting for us.”

Netflix doesn’t expect that either new offering will “materially” affect the company’s growth, it said in the shareholders letter, “because the transition from linear to on demand entertainment is so massive ​and because of the differing nature of our content offerings​. We believe we’ll all continue to grow as we each invest more in content and improve our service and as consumers continue to migrate away from linear viewing (similar to how US cable networks collectively grew for years as viewing shifted from broadcast networks during the 1980s and 1990s).”

The company continued, “We believe there is vast demand for watching great TV and movies, and Netflix only satisfies a small portion of that demand.”

Just as it did in January, the company shared ratings metrics for several of its biggest releases during the past quarter. Netflix said its film Triple Frontier, starring Ben Affleck, was watched by more than 52 million households in its first four weeks on Netflix, while The Highwaymen, starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, is on pace to be viewed by more than 40 million households in its first month.

Its Fyre Festival documentary, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, was watched by more than 20 million households in its first month. (For Netflix, a “view” is when at least 70 percent of one episode is completed.)

New series The Umbrella Academy was watched by 45 million households in its first four weeks on Netflix, while docuseries Our Planet is projected to be viewed by more than 25 million households in its first month of release. Netflix said Our Planet is “tracking to be one of our most successful global documentary series launches yet.”

As was the case in January, there are no independent numbers to verify Netflix’s data.

In the video interview for investors, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company will be “rolling out more specific granular reporting” over the next several months, to share ratings metrics with its producers and subscribers. The company is going to “be more fully transparent about what people are watching on Netflix around the world.”

In other news, Netflix said that Sarandos will also lead marketing at the company, following last month’s announcement that CMO Kelly Bennett would be leaving after seven years. Sarandos is leading the search for the new CMO, who will report to him, the shareholders letter said.


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