Netflix subscribers surge like crazy as coronavirus traps us at home

Netflix subscribers surge like crazy as coronavirus traps us at home


Tiger King was one of Netflix’s recent binge-watch phenoms in the latest quarter, which coincided with large swaths of Netflix membership being stuck at home. 


Netflix‘s added more than double the expected subscribers in the first three months of the year, massive growth that many will take as a bellwether for how subscription streaming video will fare in the coronavirus pandemic.  

Netflix, the world’s dominant streaming-video subscription service operating basically everywhere except China, said subscribers grew by 15.77 million to 182.86 million total, according to its report Tuesday detailing its first-quarter results. 

That soars past Netflix‘s January guidance to add 7 million new members. Analysts on average had expected 7.5 million member additions, according to Thomson Reuters. 

Netflix’s latest numbers come as streaming video has come to represent one of the few boom sectors as people the world over are trapped at home. The coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19, has overwhelmed health-care systems, triggered quarantines and stay-at-home orders, and forced entire industries to shut down. Entertainment has been no exception: Movie theaters are shuttered; big-budget films are being pushed back to next year; nobody knows when sports, concerts and theater can resume; and new film and TV productions are on hold for the foreseeable future. 

Netflix, with its eye-popping slate of original content and its stream-at-home model, is ideally positioned to keep serving up new programming to people stuck at home and desperate for entertainment. 

The news also comes in the midst of the so-called streaming wars, a seven-month window when media and tech giants are rolling out waves of new services. Chief among the upstarts has been Disney Plus, which launched Nov. 12 and has quickly ramped up to 50 million subscriber in five months. The winners of the streaming wars will not only shape the future of TV in the streaming age, but also influence how many services you have to pay for to watch your favorite shows and movies.

This is a developing story; check back for updates. 

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