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Netflix adds 9.3m members in Q1, plans to stop reporting subs tally in 2025

Netflix launched crime drama Griselda in the first quarter

Netflix added 9.3 million subscribers in the first quarter to reach almost 269.6 million globally, as it once again beat estimates and pulled further away from its competition.

The streaming giant has announced revenue of US$9.4bn, up 15% from US$8.2bn a year ago, and net income of US$2.3bn, up from US$1.3bn in the same period last year.

The results are further evidence that Netflix’s password sharing crackdown is continuing to yield fruit. In the previous four quarters, it added 13.1 million (Q4 2023), 8.8 million (Q3 2023), 5.9 million (Q2 2023) and 1.8 million (Q1 2023). Two years ago, subscriber growth stopped altogether, with the company posting losses in consecutive quarters.

Netflix made subscriber gains relatively evenly across its four main regions, adding 2.5 million in the US and Canada, 2.9 million in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 1.7 million in Latin America and 2.2 million in Asia Pacific.

Given that the size of the average household is more than two globally, Netflix said it now has an audience of “over half a billion people.”

Original shows released in the first quarter include Griselda, 3 Body Problem, Avatar: The Last Airbender, American Nightmare and Love Is Blind season six; UK series Fool Me Once, The Gentlemen and One Day; and Korean thriller A Killer Paradox.

Netflix also made the surprise announcement that, from the first quarter of 2025, it will stop publicly disclosing its total number of subscribers.

While it has spoken frequently over the past 12 months about relying less on subscriber numbers as a measure of growth, the change marks a meaningful shift in how the industry and Wall Street will be able to evaluate Netflix’s standing.

The change also represents a significant moment in the streaming wars, because, for years, success has been measured by how many subscribers were added or lost in any given quarter.

The reason for ceasing to report its paid membership tally is that membership is now “just one component of our growth,” said Netflix in a letter to shareholders, as it shifts its focus to revenue, operating margin and engagement and introduces multiple pricing tiers.

In its post-earnings video, co-CEO Greg Peters added: “I think those price points are going to become increasingly different [across the world], so each incremental member has a different business impact. That means that the historical, simple math that we all did – number of members times the monthly price – is increasingly less accurate in capturing the state of the business.”

Peters added that the streamer would not be “silent” on its total number of members and would provide updates “periodically.”

Despite the impressive subscriber haul, the share price fell around 4% in after-hours trading as Netflix disclosed that revenue growth would be slower in the upcoming quarter. At the end of trading on Thursday, Netflix shares were trading at around US$610 per share.

Elsewhere, co-CEO Ted Sarandos said Netflix planned to keep its content budget (for originals and acquisitions) in the US$17bn range.

Asked by an analyst if it planned to acquire more content as other studios become more receptive to licensing shows to Netflix, Sarandos said that originals remained its core focus.

“Independent of the availability of licence content, we’ve always been very disciplined in how we invest in the business and how we grow it. We can get a lot of bang for our buck by spending our money well, producing our shows really well and also by acquiring the right content. The floodgates have opened a little more on licensing for sure, but, again, we’re very focused on the ones we think will drive the business.”

In other news, the streamer commissioned an unscripted series following cheerleaders for the NFL team Dallas Cowboys and renewed The Witcher for a fifth and final season.

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