Netflix Adds Nearly 16 Million Subscribers Amid Virus Shutdown


Ore Huiying/Getty Images for Netflix
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

The streamer now has nearly 183 million global subscribers.

People watching more entertainment programming while sheltering at home propelled Netflix to a strong first three months of 2020.

The company added 15.8 million subscribers during the first quarter of the year, a period of record growth that has rocketed its global base to nearly 183 million.

Netflix had expected to add just 7 million subs during the period, but the company forecast that growth before the full effects of the pandemic had been felt globally.

In spite of the strong period, CEO Reed Hastings hit a somber note in his letter to shareholders. “In our 20+ year history, we have never seen a future more uncertain or unsettling,” he wrote. “The coronavirus 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.”

He continued by explaining that Netflix is seeing “temporarily higher viewing and increased membership growth” but “we expected viewing to decline and membership growth to decelerate as home confinement ends, which we hope is soon.” The company is forecasting that it will at 7.5 million subs during the second quarter, which spans the April to June period where people have largely been sheltering at home, but noted that the figure is “mostly guesswork” given the uncertainty around how long the shutdown will last.

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