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Why did Netflix beat subscriber growth expectations? Original content. Full stop.

1 month ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Big Tech
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

While some analysts were expecting ho-hum results from Netflix ($NASDAQ:NFLX) in light of the launches of Disney+ and Apple TV+, the streaming service announced today in its fourth-quarter report that it added more new subscribers than expected. While the company expected to add 7.6 million subscribers last quarter, it actually added 8.8 million globally.

And that is, in our estimation, all about Netflix's barrage or original content. As of this week, the network boasts 1,211 originals.

Just 8 months ago, when we started tracking Netflix's stable of original shows and movies, it listed less than 1,000 originals. On average, the network continues to add around a show a day, or 30 per month. Sometimes 31.

Netflix continues to win subscribers, even in an age of massive competition from major players, with a brute-force barrage of new content that doesn't just keep current subscribers paying their monthly bills, but attracting new ones who simply can't miss out on award-winning movies and shows. In just the last quarter, it premiered Marriage Story and The Irishman, both nominated for Academy Awards. Netflix has the most nominations of any studio, which will be a trend going forward.

To be clear, though, much of Netflix's recent growth took place outside of the US, however. It added 423,000 subscribers in the US, against a forecast of 600,000. But the company appears focused on international growth, and that may prove just fine for investors.

Hiring at the company has reflected this, with an uptick over the past year in hiring in international markets, while domestic hiring saw its first slowdown in some time.

But again, the real lever here is Netflix's original content, and it has people talking. The company's social media following continues to climb, both on Twitter and Facebook.

On Twitter, Netflix boasts 7.14 million followers, up from 5.62 million followers last year. That's a gain of 1.52 million followers or 27% in just one year.

On Facebook, Netflix now has a massive following of 62.5 users. That's up from 54.2 million at this time last year, a gain of 8.3 million users, or 15%.

For a company that was expected to slow down once Disney and Apple got involved in the streaming market, Netflix shows no signs of slowing down. Now, once HBO Max and Peacock and others come out, we'll see, but for now, there's no stopping Netflix.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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