Netflix Blasts Past Subscriber Growth Expectations

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Meanwhile, Netflix has raised its USA streaming prices twice since 2014.

The streaming service added 7.41 million new subscribers in its first quarter, a 50% gain over the year prior, beating the company's forecast of 6.35 million.

In the USA, the platform added 1.96 million memberships compared with a forecast of 1.45 million. But Spotify's stock has declined 15 percent from its trading high of $169 per share, reflecting doubts that it will ever come close to copying Netflix, which boasts a market value of more than $130 billion. Hastings said on an earnings call. The company's revenue for the quarter was up 40.3% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Heading into 1Q earnings, expectations are high, as the stock has appreciated +47% YTD. While several leading tech companies have stumbled this year amid regulatory concerns, Netflix stock has soared 60% on optimism for its original content strategy. Executives said on a conference call that the "new wave" of operator partnerships was a consistent shift across all geographic markets.

"We're very different from the ad-supported businesses, and we've always been very big on protecting all of our members' viewing", Hastings said. Netflix also shared that it added 5.5 million subscribers globally and 2 million subscribers in the USA during the period. Netflix's revenue for the quarter was up 35.9% compared to the same quarter past year.

New additions include the Queer Eye reboot, a new season of Jessica Jones and the new David Letterman talk show, which includes interviews with Barack Obama and Jay-Z. Netflix's forecasts for the second quarter for subscriber and revenue growth were also better than analysts expected.

All that original content doesn't come cheap.

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The company plans to spend between $7.5 billion and $8 billion on content in 2018 including series, films, unscripted content, documentaries, comedy specials and non-English language programs.

Sarandos cited the example of Millarworld, which Netflix purchased a year ago for an undisclosed sum. It also reportedly coughed up $300 million to hire Ryan Murphy, the power producer behind "Glee".

With $10.99 as a price tag for domestic services and a rough average circling $9 overseas, the analyst can not ignore that the company is set to keep burning cash.

"The variance relative to our guidance was driven by continued strong acquisition trends across the globe which we attribute to the growing breadth of our content and the worldwide adoption of internet entertainment", Netflix said in its statement.

The California-based company has said its investment into original programming in recent years is paying off, culminating in a record 8.3 million subscribers being added in the three months to the end of December.

Netflix faces increasing competition from Amazon and Disney, which have their own offerings, as well as traditional media companies and technology companies such as Apple. There's no saying at this point if all the billions of dollars will sway more viewers toward original series like Stranger Things and Ozark rather than licensed content; we can only wait and see.

The belief among analysts like Deutsche Bank's Brian Kraft is that Netflix has too much of a head start to lose now.

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