Practicing social distancing during coronavirus doesn’t mean you have to give up TV watch parties with your friends thanks to Netflix Party.
We knew people were watching more Netflix as stay-at-home orders across the nation kept folks at home during the coronavirus crisis. But far more new subscribers flocked to the streaming provider than expected.
Netflix on Tuesday said it added more than 2.3 million new members in the U.S. during the January to March quarter – more than three times the 759,000 new additions analysts had expected. Internationally, Netflix added about 13.5 million new subscribers, about 75% more than the 7.75 million analysts expected.
The influx brings Netflix’s total subscriber base to about 183 million subscribers worldwide, 70 million in the U.S. and 113 million internationally.
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“Our membership growth has temporarily accelerated due to home confinement,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote in a letter to shareholders released Tuesday after the market’s close.
Netflix has paused most of its in-progress productions, he said, but added “we benefit from a large pipeline of content that was either complete and ready for launch or in post-production when filming stopped.”
About the coronavirus pandemic, Hastings said, it “has reached every corner of the world and, in the absence of a widespread treatment or vaccine, no one knows how or when this terrible crisis will end. What’s clear is the escalating human cost in terms of lost lives and lost jobs, with tens of millions of people now out of work.”
Netflix expects to add about 7.5 million in the April-June period.
“We expect viewing to decline and membership growth to decelerate as home confinement ends, which we hope is soon,” he said.
Mark Wahlberg brings the ex-cop character Spenser back with ‘Spenser Confidential,’ coming to Netflix on March 6.
Among Netflix’s hits during the first three months of 2020: documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” viewed by a projected 64 million member households, the film “Spenser Confidential” (85 million), and season three of “Ozark,” viewed by 29 million.
A better-than-expected performance from Netflix was expected, Rich Greenfield, partner and media and technology analyst at LightShed Partners, said in a blog post Tuesday. “Everyone is stuck sheltering at home with no sports on TV and with fresh entertainment content on linear TV running thin,” he wrote.
Netflix reported first-quarter net income of $709 million, or $1.57 on a per-share basis. That missed expectations of $739 million, or $1.64 on a per-share basis, based on analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The Los Gatos, California-headquartered net TV company posted revenue of $5.77 billion in the period, which beat forecasts of $5.75 billion.
For the current quarter ending in July, Netflix said it expects revenue in the range of $6.05 billion, slightly ahead of the $5.95 billion estimated by analysts.
Netflix shares have climbed 36% since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has declined 15%. In the final minutes of trading on Tuesday, shares hit $439.18, a climb of 16% in the last 12 months.
Shares were down 0.24% in after-hours trading Tuesday.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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