Netflix likely now has more than 150M subscribers

Netflix sign Los Gatos
Netflix reports first-quarter financial results today. (Netflix)

Netflix is scheduled to announce its first-quarter financial results later today, but even without an official new subscriber count, the company likely has more than 150 million.

Netflix ended 2018 with more than 139 million paid streaming memberships. The company predicted it would add another 8.90 million (combined domestic and international) subscribers during the first quarter, bringing its total paid memberships up to just more than 148 million.

But as The Guardian points out, that total doesn’t include the approximately 8 million subscribers Netflix currently has on 30-day free trials. Throwing those in puts Netflix well past the 150 million subscriber mark.

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Netflix no longer relies on total net addition reporting to show its subscriber growth trajectory. During the third quarter of 2018, the company explained that its total paid additions are more steady than net adds, which it said can be skewed by free trials “of varying quality” and add noise to membership forecasts that isn’t material to revenues.

RELATED: Netflix added 1.5M U.S. subscribers during Q4

“In addition, we are learning that no free trial may result in greater revenue in some markets, so free trial count at the end of a quarter will likely be a less insightful predictor of future growth than in the past,” wrote Netflix in a letter to shareholders. “As a result, starting with our earnings report in January 2019, we’ll only guide to paid memberships; a year after that, in 2020, we’ll cease reporting on end-of-quarter free trial count.”

Aside from subscriber growth and financial results—which consensus puts at $4.5 billion in revenue, $408 million in operating income and earnings per share of $0.57—the big point of discussion around Netflix’s first-quarter earnings will be the company’s reaction to competition. In the past month, Apple revealed its video streaming plans around Apple TV+, and Disney provided more details about its Disney+ streaming service that will launch on Nov. 12 priced at $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

In its fourth-quarter earnings release, Netflix somewhat shrugged off competition from video services like Amazon Prime Video and noted it competes with (and loses to) Fortnite more than HBO.

“Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers choose. Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon or others, but on how we can improve our experience for our members,” Netflix wrote.

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